Mullah Omar's son says he cannot support new Taliban leader

Mullah Omar disappeared from public view after fleeing in 2001
The Taliban confirmed on Thursday that Mullah Omar was dead  Photo: EPA/AP

No sooner had the Taliban selected a new chief to replace Mullah Omar than deep fractures emerged on Friday, as the former leader's son said he rejected the choice of successor.

The dispute threatens to derail embryonic peace talks and a rift could allow other Jihadist groups, such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a foothold in Afghanistan.

Mullah Yacoob, Mullah Omar's oldest son, said he and three other senior leaders walked out of a meeting called to elect a leader, and were demanding a wider vote.

“I am against the decision to select Mullah Akhtar Mansoor as leader,” he told The Associated Press.

He is considered a moderate and a supporter of peace talks.

But a member of its ruling Quetta Shura told The Telegraph that dozens of key leaders were not present at the secret meeting in Pakistan, which was dominated by Mullah Mansoor's supporters.

“Mansoor was elected by his own group, and we will not accept him as the supreme leader of Taliban,” he said on condition of anonymity. “And we cannot call it a decision without a consensus.”

He said he walked out alongside Mullah Yacoob only 35 minutes into the two-day meeting, which ended with those present swearing loyalty to Mullah Mansoor.

Mullah Qayum Zakir, until recently the Taliban's military leader, has been the most vocal critics of the new leader, hinting at divisions between a political leadership based in Pakistan and fighters in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, a second round of meetings between Taliban figures and Afghan government representatives planned in Pakistan has been postponed.

Observers are waiting to see what the succession means for talks.

Shashank Joshi, a senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, said the leadership question had not triggered fresh splits but instead illustrated existing fractures that could devalue any peace process.

“The biggest question,” he said, “is if there is a settlement, will it be upheld in Afghanistan?”

A member of the Taliban talks team said he did not know when meetings would resume, however, he insisted that any splits would soon be resolved.

“If anyone does not obey the new chief of the Taliban then he will be not in the Taliban,” he said simply.

Funeral prayers were held in a number of Pakistani cities to remember Mullah Omar.

Mullah Omar funeral prayer (in absentia) led by Hafiz Saeed, JuD chief. In 2011, he did same for OBL too v/ @Razarumi

— Taha Siddiqui (@TahaSSiddiqui) July 31, 2015

A statement circulated by the Taliban appeared to be an attempt to head off splits, conferring on the new leader the title of "Commander of the Faithful” just like that used by Mullah Omar.

"After [Omar's] death the leadership council and Islamic scholars of the country, after long consultations, appointed his close and trusted friend and his former deputy Mullah Akhtar Mansour as the leader," it said.

"When Mullah Omar was alive, Mullah Mansoor was considered a trustworthy and appropriate person to take this heavy responsibility."

In a separate development, a number of Taliban figures said Jalaluddin Haqqani, founder of the Haqqani network, had also died.

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Source : telegraph[dot]co[dot]uk
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