The Taliban’s newly appointer leader, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, released an audio message on Saturday calling on the factions of the militant group to maintain their unity in their fight against the Western-backed Afghan government.
Having been chosen by Taliban leaders to replace Mullah Omar on Thursday, following the confirmation of reports claiming his predecessor had died in Karachi, Pakistan in 2013, Mullah Mansour warned the division in Taliban ranks will only “please” the group’s enemies.
The leadership of the Taliban prior to Mansour’s appointment was reportedly said to be “at a crossroads,” according to a senior Pakistan-based Afghan Taliban commander, with one faction calling for Omar's son Yaqoob to replace his father.
A Taliban spokesman also reportedly told the BBC that Mansour’s appointment has the new leader was not backed "by all Taliban," with some Taliban members seeing him as being chosen by pro-Pakistani factions.
The BBC also reported that Mullah Abdul Manan Niazi, another Taliban spokesman, had rejected Mansour’s appointment as a breach of the group’s rules.
"According to Islamic rule and principles, when a leader dies, a Shura (council) is called, then its leader is appointed," Niazi said.
But Mansour said he will reach out to the group’s factions to preserve unity. “We need to be patient and should try to go to those friends who are unhappy. We will have to convince them and take them on board."
Mansour, who is said to be in favour of the Taliban’s peace talks with the Afghan government, is expected to push for the continuation of talks into a second round, after the first round of talks were completed early July.
However, the Taliban denied reports that a second round of talks were being planned to be held in Pakistan or China, with Mansour himself saying in the 30-minute audio that the talks are "propaganda campaigns by the enemy."