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Afghanistan: Taliban announce new caretaker government full of the old guard

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By Euronews  with AFP, AP
Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Moscow, Russia on March 18, 2021.
Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Moscow, Russia on March 18, 2021.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko   -  

Mohammad Hasan Akhund will head Afghanistan's interim government, a spokesperson for the Taliban announced on Tuesday.

The new cabinet has also been announced with the top posts being awarded to Taliban personalities who dominated the 20-year battle against the U.S.-led coalition and its Afghan government allies.

Hasan Akhund served as foreign minister and deputy prime minister during the Taliban's previous administrations from 1996 to 2001.

Abdul Ghani Baradar, the militant group's co-founder who took part in the US withdrawal negotiations, will be the new executive's number two.

Other appointments include Mullah Yaqoub — son of Taliban co-founder Mullah Omar — as defence minister, and Sirajuddin Haqqani, head of the Haqqani network, as interior minister.

The Haqqani Network is a US-designated terror group that has long been viewed as one of the most dangerous factions of the militant group.

Amir Khan Muttaqi, a Taliban negotiator in Doha, was appointed head of the Foreign Ministry.

There was no evidence of non-Taliban in the lineup, a big demand of the international community.

Ahmadullah Wasiq, an official of the Taliban cultural commission, said on Twitter that ceremonies will be held "in the future" to swear in the new government.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, when announcing the Cabinet, said the appointments were for an interim government. He did not elaborate on how long they would serve and what would be the catalyst for a change.

So far, the Taliban have shown no indications that they will hold elections.

The announcement of Cabinet appointments by Mujahid came hours after the Taliban fired into the air to disperse protesters and arrested several journalists, the second time in less than a week the group used heavy-handed tactics to break up a demonstration in the Afghan capital of Kabul.

Afghanistan's previous government routinely accused Pakistan of aiding the Taliban, a charge Islamabad has denied. Former vice president Amrullah Saleh, one of the leaders of the anti-Taliban forces, has long been an outspoken critic of neighboring Pakistan.