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Who are the key figures in the new Afghan government?

Filed on September 7, 2021

Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar (centre) and other members of the Taliban. Photo: AFP

Afghan Acting Prime minister Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund,. Photo: AFP

The new government is lead by Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund

The Taliban on Tuesday announced key acting ministerial positions. Here are some facts about the main appointments:

Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund, Acting Prime minister

Akhund is the longtime head of Taliban’s powerful decision-making body Rehbari Shura, or leadership council. He was first the foreign minister and then deputy prime minister during the Taliban’s last rule from 1996-2001.

He hails from Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban. Akhund is highly respected within the movement, especially by its supreme leader Haibatullah Akhundzada, a Taliban source said.

Akhund derives much of his prestige from his proximity to the movement’s first leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar.

Some observers see Akhund, believed to be in his mid-60s and possibly older, as a political figure, with his control over the leadership council also giving him a say in military affairs.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, Acting Deputy Prime Minister

Baradar was once a close friend of Mullah Omar, who gave him his nom de guerre, “Baradar” or “brother”.

He served as deputy defence minister when the Taliban last ruled Afghanistan. Baradar also served as a senior military commander.

He headed the Taliban’s political office in Doha, becoming one of the most prominent figures in peace talks with the United States.

Mullah Amir Khan Muttaqi, Acting Foreign Minister

Originally from Paktia, Muttaqi calls himself a resident of Helmand.

Muttaqi served as minister of culture and information during the previous Taliban government, as well as minister of education. Muttaqi later went to Qatar and was appointed a member of the peace commission and negotiation team that held talks with the US.

He is the chair of the Invitation and Guidance Commission.

Mullah Yaoob, Acting Defence Minister

Son of the Taliban’s founder Mullah Omar, Yaqoob had originally sought to succeed his father in 2015. He stormed out of the council meeting that appointed his father’s successor, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, but was eventually reconciled.

Still in his early 30s and without the long combat experience of the Taliban’s main commanders, he commands the loyalty of a section of the movement in Kandahar because of the prestige of his father’s name.

He was named as overall head of the Taliban military commission last year, overseeing all military operations in Afghanistan and was one of three deputy leaders, along with Baradar and Sirajuddin Haqqani.

Sirajuddin Haqqani, Acting Interior Minister

Head of the influential Haqqani network, Sirajuddin Haqqani succeeded as its leader following the death of his father, Jalaluddin Haqqani, in 2018.

The semi-autonomous group was blamed for some of the deadliest attacks on forces.

Zabihullah Mujahid, Acting Dep. Information Minister

The long-time spokesman for the Taliban, Mujahid has for more than a decade been the key conduit for information on the group’s activities, regularly posting details of attacks through his Twitter account.

No photo of him existed until he gave his first press conference following the fall of Kabul last month.

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