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Top Omar Aide Says New Taliban Leader Faced Opposition

  • RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan

A close aide to late Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar said the newly elected leader of the militant group faces significant opposition from within.

Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansur, an aviation minister during the Taliban's 1996-2001 rule in Afghanistan, was announced as the new leader of the Taliban July 30 after the group confirmed Omar's death.

But Mullah Mohammad Hassan Rahmani -- who was the governor of Kandahar province during the Taliban's rule -- told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan that Mansur was selected by only a small group of Taliban leaders despite opposition from him and other major commanders, including Mullah Abduraziq and Mullah Abdul Qayum Zaker.

Rahmani said that he and his group wanted Mawlawi Yaqub, the 23-year-old son of Mullah Omar, to be the leader. Yaqub was deemed too young by those who selected Mansur.

Rahmani also said that there were no divisions within the group over the current peace talks with the Afghan government, which were delayed after Omar’s death.

News reports have highlighted an alleged division between Taliban moderates who favor the peace talks and hard-liners who want to continue the 14-year insurgency.

With reporting by AFP and AP