Ending speculation about the status of Mullah Omar, the Taliban on July 30 confirmed the death of their one-eyed supreme leader. The Taliban’s supreme council in a meeting unanimously decided that Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour would be the new leader and successor to Mullah Mohammad Omar.
Mansour headed the supreme council for a while and was a key member of the Taliban government under Mullah Omar where Mansour was the civil aviation and transport minister. He was also the Taliban governor of Kandahar in 2007. Before becoming Mullah Omar’s deputy in 2010, he was the chief of military affairs for a regional Taliban military council. The Taliban’s statement on Omar’s death, in the Pashto language, called him “the late leader of the faithful.”
The second round of Afghan peace talks which was supposed to be held on July 31 has been postponed due to the resulting uncertainty surrounding the Taliban after public declaration of the death of Mullah Omar. The Taliban statement also said a three-day mourning period for Mullah Omar would be observed. The statement issued did not make any mention of where and when he died, except that he died of illness. It would be interesting to observe how the Taliban under the new leadership would regroup and whether it would want to engage with the Afghanistan government for lasting peace.
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