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Will not deal separately with the Taliban: Afghan government

world Updated: Aug 03, 2015 13:14 IST
Mullah Mohammad Omar

The Afghan government acknowledged the growing leadership crisis within the Taliban for the first time on Monday, before stating that it would not deal with the militant group separately from the other "armed opposition" groups in the country.

The statement from President Ashraf Ghani's office said it will not accept any "parallel political structure" opposed to the Afghan government, a clear reference to the Taliban, who still call themselves the "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan."

Fledgling peace talks between the Taliban and the government halted last week after Afghan authorities announced that Mullah Mohammad Omar had died in April 2013. The Taliban confirmed Mullah Omar's death and said Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor had been elected to replace him.

Relatives of Mullah Omar have contested Mullah Mansoor's appointment, demanding a wider vote that includes battlefield commanders as their nearly 14-year insurgency continues.

The Taliban have been trying to present a unified front in recent days with several statements. A Taliban statement Monday said condolences for Mullah Omar and congratulations for Mullah Mansoor had been flooding them from across Afghanistan.

"All these messages and support show the people's unity and love toward their Islamic Emirate," it said.

An internal Taliban split could jeopardize peace talks which began last month. Mullah Mansoor is widely seen as having pushed the Taliban into the negotiations at Pakistan's bidding.

The Taliban have intensified their attacks on local security forces after NATO and US troops ended their combat mission last year.

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