In his first public statement since his recent election as the new leader of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour focused primarily on an appeal for unity in the wake of the confirmation that long-time leader Mullah Omar had died.
Though Mansour was nominally elected “unanimously” as Omar’s successor, a number of Taliban leaders, including Omar’s eldest son, walked out before the vote and are openly opposing Mansour’s leadership, raising talk of a faction fight within the Taliban over leadership.
During the 30-minute speech, Mansour talked up the need to remain unified against the NATO occupation forces, and to continue the insurgency until the Taliban returns to its position as an “Islamic state” in Afghanistan.
There was no discussion of the possibility of a return to peace talks with the Afghan government, despite Mullah Omar having openly endorsed that process. It is believed to be difficult for Mansour to even attempt peace talks right now, with so many questions about how much of the Taliban he even controls right now, and how much he can deliver in a deal.
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