Taliban elects new leader after Mullah Omar’s death

Taliban sources tell Al Jazeera that Mullah Akhtar Mansoor is new leader of the group, confirming death of Mullah Omar.

The Taliban has elected Mullah Akhtar Mansoor as its new leader, Taliban sources have told Al Jazeera, as the group confirmed the death of their founder Mullah Omar.

The election, which was reported on Thursday, has not been officially confirmed by the Taliban. But a commander present at the meeting to elect Mansoor confirmed the report to the Reuters news agency.

Reports said the election was held in Pakistan’s city of Quetta. 

The news comes as a Taliban representative and the group’s Twitter account confirmed the death of Omar, Al Jazeera’s Qais Azimy said. However, the group refused to give information where and when Omar had died.   

Al Jazeera explains: Who is Mullah Akhtar Mansoor?

Mansoor will be only the second leader the Taliban have had since Omar, an elusive figure rarely seen in public who founded the group in the 1990s.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Yehia Ghanem, a journalist who covered the Taliban for years, said the way Mansoor’s election was announced, “it is obvious that it is true.”

Mansoor is a “key figure” in the Taliban organisation, serving as the governor of Kandahar before the American invasion, he said. He also served as the Taliban aviation minister.

“He actually led many intelligence operations, very important and major ones, in which he beat the biggest intelligence apparatus in the world,” Ghanem added. 

Mansoor’s leadership and intelligence experience in Kandahar, the birthplace of Taliban, make him a logical successor of Omar, he added.   

The Afghan government said on Wednesday that Taliban leader Omar died more than two years ago, in a hospital in Karachi. Ghanem, however, said that the report was “doubtful.”

Following the announcement, a second round of peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government have been postponed.

Al Jazeera’s Qais Azimy, however, said that despite the postponement of the talks, the Afghan government is optimistic that Mansoor would be more open to negotiations.

Still, our correspondent said that the Taliban has also been carrying out attacks across the country, taking control of more territories from the government as recently as last Wednesday. 

Source: Al Jazeera