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New Taliban Leader Allegedly Disavows Peace Process in Audiotape

Mullah Muhammad Akhtar Mansoor dismisses reports of a peace process as "propaganda" and calls for unity among the Taliban, even as some of the group’s highest-ranking members dispute his ascension.

by Tessa Stuart
Aug 1 2015, 4:55pm

Mullah Omar (L) and Mullah Muhammad Akhtar Mansoor (R). (Handout/EPA)

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The new leader of the Afghan Taliban is rejecting the peace process and calling for unity among the Taliban, even as some of the group's highest-ranking members dispute his ascension.

The Taliban announced Mullah Akhtar Mansoor would be its new leader this week after confirming the organization's founder, Mullah Mohammed Omar, was dead.

The news of Omar's death came two days before the Taliban was scheduled to resume peace talks with the Afghan government on Friday. (Talks between the government and the radical group began in earnest early last month after more than 13 years of war.)

The talks were postponed at the request of the Taliban, Pakistani officials said on Friday, amid fears of violence. The same day, the Taliban's media office released a recording of a speech it says Mansoor gave at the ceremony in which he took charge.

Related: The Taliban Names New Leader as It Distances Itself From Peace Talks

In the speech, Mansoor — who is believed to have initiated last month's peace talks — disavows the process.

"When we hear about different processes like the peace process, they are all the propaganda campaigns by the enemy. They are conducting these campaigns by spending money through media and some scholars to only make our Jihad weak, but we will not pay attention to any of those including the peace process," Mansoor says on the tape. "We will continue our Jihad until we bring an Islamic rule in the country."

At another point in the speech, Mansoor calls for unity among the Taliban. "We should all work to preserve unity, division in our ranks will only please our enemies, and cause further problems for us," he says.

According to Reuters, more than a dozen high-ranking Taliban members, including Omar's brother and son, walked out of the meeting earlier this week in which Mansoor, Omar's longtime deputy, was appointed the Taliban's new leader.

Another report says the Taliban Supreme Council is displeased with Monsoor's installment. A senior member of the council tells Al Jazeera it was not consulted before the group announced Mansoor would be its new leader.

"This decision was taken without our consent. Our Mujahideen have sacrificed their blood for two decades. We have to appoint someone who has a proper knowledge and hold on Sharia and our Afghan values," Mullah Abdul Manan Niazi said.

Related: Taliban Leader Mullah Omar Is 'Dead'

The Afghan government announced on Wednesday that Omar died in a hospital in Karachi, Pakistan in April 2013. Tuberculosis is believed to have been the cause of death. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed his death, but said it only occured after his health worsened in the last two weeks.

Omar had not been seen publicly since 2001, though messages distributed by the Taliban in the last two years continued to be signed with his name.

In a statement released on Friday, the US government said its intelligence on Omar indicates the Afghan government is correct. In a statement, the White House said his death "represents a chance for yet more progress on the path to a stable, secure Afghanistan." 

Follow Tessa Stuart on Twitter: @tessastuart

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