Demonstrations continue, Wednesday, September 8, in major Afghan cities. The day before, the Taliban presented an interim government composed exclusively of members of the Islamist movement and without women, breaking with their promises of openness.
As in recent days, demonstrations against the regime took place on Wednesday after the death of two people the day before in Herat, in the west of the country. A small gathering was quickly dispersed by the Taliban in Kabul, noted a journalist from Agence France-Presse (AFP). The same thing happened in Faizabad (northeast), according to local media.
Back in power since mid-August, two decades after having imposed a fundamentalist and brutal regime (between 1996 and 2001), the Taliban announced on Tuesday the composition of a government that is not inclusive, unlike to their commitments. Indeed, all the members of this government which will be led by Mohammad Hassan Akhund, a former close collaborator of the founder of the movement, Mullah Omar, who died in 2013, are Taliban. In addition, almost all of them belong to the Pashtun ethnic group.
Ministers who appear on UN sanction lists
Several of the new ministers, some of whom were already very influential during the previous Taliban regime, are on United Nations (UN) sanction lists. Four passed through the American prison at Guantanamo. Prime Minister Akhund is known to have endorsed the 2001 destruction of giant Buddhas in central Bamiyan, according to Bill Roggio, editor of the Long War Journal.
Abdul Ghani Baradar, co-founder of the movement, becomes Deputy Prime Minister and Mullah Mohammad Yaqoub, son of Mullah Omar, Minister of Defense. The interior portfolio goes to Sirajuddin Haqqani, leader of the network of the same name, described as terrorist by Washington and historically close to Al-Qaida.
In announcing this government, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said he was ” not complete “ and that the movement would try to include subsequently “People from other parts of the country”.
The government deemed neither “inclusive” nor “representative”
The European Union (EU) on Wednesday criticized the government, deeming it neither “Inclusive” or “Representative” the ethnic and religious diversity of the country. It was “One of the five conditions set” so that relations can be established between the European bloc and the new Afghan power, recalled an EU spokesperson.
The United States noted the absence of women and said “Concerned” through “The affiliations and backgrounds of some of these individuals”, even if they will judge “On acts”. In an exclusive interview with AFP recorded on Monday, Qatari Deputy Foreign Minister Lolwah Al-Khater said the Taliban should be judged on their actions, while stressing that they had so far demonstrated “Pragmatism”.
China, a neighbor of Afghanistan, has welcomed the composition of the interim government, a measure which, according to Beijing, puts an end to “Three weeks of anarchy” in the country.
During their first stint in power, the Islamists had flouted the rights of women, who were almost excluded from public space. Many Afghan women and the international community fear the same. Pramila Patten, head of UN Women, the agency created to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women, said that their absence from this government “Cast doubt on the recent commitment to protect and respect rights” Afghan women.
Since taking power, the Taliban have repeatedly claimed that they have changed. But their promises are struggling to convince. The return of the ministry for the promotion of virtue and the repression of vice, which was the reign of terror in the 1990s, should thus raise many concerns among the population.
“All Afghans, without distinction or exception, will have the right to live in dignity and peace in their own country”, affirmed, Tuesday, the supreme leader of the Taliban, Haibatullah Akhundzada, remained silent until then, without however never mentioning the word “women”.
He called on the new government to “Enforce Sharia law” and do everything to “Eradicate poverty and unemployment”. Ravaged by decades of conflict, the Afghan economy is in tatters, deprived of international aid on which it depends and which has been largely frozen.
In recent days, the Taliban have been facing a new challenge for them with these demonstrations which show how much Afghan society has become liberalized in twenty years. For the first time, on Tuesday, they took a deadly turn in Herat, where two people were killed and eight shot and wounded, according to a local doctor.
Mr. Mujahid called these protests“Illegal” as long as ” laws [n’étaient] not proclaimed “, and asked the media to ” not [les] cover “. Shots were also fired in the air, Tuesday in Kabul, to disperse demonstrators who denounced the repression of the Taliban in the Panchir, where a resistance movement rose against them, and the supposed interference of Pakistan in Afghan affairs.
The rebellion in the Panchir Valley, a bastion opposed to the long-standing Taliban, is led by the National Resistance Front (FNR) and its leader, Ahmad Massoud, son of the famous commander Ahmed Chah Massoud, assassinated in 2001 by Al-Qaida.
On Monday, the Taliban claimed to have taken control and warned that any new insurgency attempt would be “Severely repressed”. But the FNR assured to continue the fight. He ruled the Taliban government “Illegitimate” and will soon form his own, after consulting with“Important Afghan personalities”. “The narrative around the modern Taliban is over, there is not a Taliban who is in favor of an inclusive government”, reacted to AFP Ali Maisam Nazary, spokesman for the FNR.
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