On Tuesday, the Taliban announced a new interim government that will be lead by Mohammad Hasan Akhund, a Taliban member since the 1990s who is on a UN sanctions list and was close to the late founder of the group, Mullah Omar.
Akhund will serve as the acting prime minister, and his deputy will be Abdul Ghani Baradar, a Taliban co-founder who has been the group’s political leader in recent years from its office in Doha. Baradar returned to Afghanistan after Kabul was taken by the Taliban and was expected to have a high position in the government.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid announced dozens of members of the new acting cabinet, which is made up of senior Taliban members. Notable ministers include Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is wanted by the FBI and leads the Haqqani Network, a militant group the US has designated as a “terrorist” organization. Haqqani will serve as acting interior minister. Mohammad Yaqoob, the son of Mullah Omar, was named as acting defense minister.
The fact that the interim government is made up entirely of Taliban members is causing some to question earlier Taliban promises that they would form an “inclusive” government. Mujahid stressed what he announced is just an acting government and said the Taliban will “try to take people from other parts of the country.”
“The Islamic Emirate decided to appoint and announce a caretaker cabinet to carry out the necessary government works,” Mujahid said. In total, he announced 33 government officials and said the remaining posts will be announced after more deliberation.
Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada, the Taliban’s religious leader, released a statement on the new government that said it will respect the rights of minorities. “The Islamic Emirate will take serious and effective steps towards protecting human rights, the rights of minorities as well as the rights of the underprivileged groups within the framework of the demands of the sacred religion of Islam,” he said.