Taliban to announce new government

Official says ceremony is being prepared at presidential palace in Kabul – two weeks after Islamist militia seized control

Sources told Agence-France Presse the cabinet could be presented after morning prayers on Friday, while Ahmadullah Muttaqi, a Taliban official, said on social media a ceremony was being prepared at the presidential palace in Kabul.

The private broadcaster Tolo said an announcement was imminent. The movement’s supreme leader, Haibatullah Akhundzada, is expected to have ultimate power over a new governing council, with a president below him, Taliban officials have said.

Weeks after swiftly seizing control of Afghanistan, the Taliban is soon set to unveil its newly-formed government, which is likely to be helmed by the militant group’s top spiritual leader, Sheikh Haibatullah Akhundzada.

Sheikh Haibatullah took over as the Supreme leader of the Taliban after his predecessor, Akhtar Mansour, was killed in a US drone strike right by the Afghan-Pakistan border in 2016. Born and raised in the Panjwayi district just outside Kandahar, he grew up studying in madrassas or religious schools. His family later moved to the Balochistan province of Pakistan after the Soviet invasion.

Other Taliban officials expected to hold senior positions include Sirajuddin Haqqani, another deputy leader, Mohammad Yaqoob, the son of the Taliban’s founder Mullah Muhammad Omar, who died in 2013.

The new government will face enormous challenges. The UN has warned of a looming humanitarian catastrophe across the country of 40 million people amid a severe drought, growing food insecurity and the upheavals of a 20-year war that forced thousands of families to flee their homes.

Afghanistan desperately needs money, but despite assurances from the new Taliban-appointed central bank head, the Taliban are unlikely to get swift access to roughly $10bn in assets mostly held abroad by the Afghan central bank.

Mujahid said the Taliban “care a lot about the ‘one belt, one road’ project. We own rich copper mines, which, thanks to the Chinese, will be modernized. Finally, China represents our ticket to the markets around the world.”

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