New Taliban leader vows to continue insurgency

Mullah Akhtar Mansoor calls for unity and pledges to uphold Mullah Omar’s legacy as he tries to consolidate power.

Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, Taliban militants'' new leader, is seen in this undated handout photograph
Mansoor is only the second leader the Taliban have had since Mullah Omar [Reuters]

The new leader of the Afghan Taliban has issued his first audio statement, calling for unity and promising to continue the insurgency.

In the 33-minute message released on Saturday, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor vowed to follow Mullah Omar’s footsteps, casting more doubt on the future of the peace negotiations with the government.

“We should not concentrate on peace talks or anything related to that. We should focus on implementing the Islamic system,” he said.

Related: Taliban leaders dispute appointment of Mullah Mansoor

“Mullah Omar has passed away but our religion still exists among us. The blood of our ‘Mujahideens’ should not go to waste,” he said, referring to the Taliban fighters. “We should fight united until we win.”

The Taliban elected Mansoor as its new leader on Thursday after the group confirmed the death of his predecessor Mullah Omar, an elusive figure who was rarely seen in public.

“We should all work to preserve unity. Division in our ranks will only please our enemies, and cause further problems for us,” he said. “The decision should not be questioned.”

Sheikh Rehmatullah and Siraj Haqqani were identified as his deputies in the message.

Potential rivals

There have been reports that some top Taliban commanders favoured the 26-year-old Mullah Yaqoub, son of Mullah Omar, to be the successor to his father. But the rest of the group believed he was “young and inexperienced”.

Mansoor also reportedly had powerful rivals in the past within the Taliban including Mullah Zakir, a former chief military commander of the Taliban. He is now facing resistance from members of the Taliban Supreme Council, the Quetta Shura.

Taliban says Omar dead, picks Mansoor as new leader

In his message, Mansoor praised the Taliban founding leader and said that despite attempts to divide the armed group, they had stood steadfast and foiled the conspiracy. 

“Our goal and slogan is to implement sharia and an Islamic system, and our jihad will continue until this is done,” Mansoor said in the message.

Mansoor is only the second leader the Taliban have had since Omar, who founded the group in the 1990s.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, a source, who asked not to be identifed described Mansoor as a “quite and a calm person”.

“I have met him back in the days when he was a student in a madrassa in the Jalozai District of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.”

Kabul held talks last month with the Taliban in an attempt to work towards a peace process for the war-ravaged nation, though the second round of talks that had been expected in Pakistan on Friday were postponed following the announcement of Omar’s death.

With reporting from Shereena Qazi

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies