On Saturday, in a his first audio message as leader of the group, Mansoor called for the Taliban to unite as “division in our ranks will only please our enemies”, he said.
The reports said that the half an hour Mansoor’s audio statement was sent to local media by Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban purported spokesman, who said the statement was delivered by Mansoor during an allegiance meeting held on Thursday.
The selection of Mansoor, who has been the insurgency’s de facto leader for several years, occurred quickly given the Taliban’s byzantine command structure across numerous power centers in several Pakistani cities.
He has powerful rivals within the Taliban who are strongly opposed to peace talks with the Afghan government, with some insurgents also unhappy at the thought he may have deceived them for over a year about Omar’s death. The splintering of the group could see disaffected Taliban fighters and field commanders defect to rival factions such as the Islamic State group – which has been trying to recruit in Afghanistan.
Supporters of a Pakistani religious group “Jamaat-ud-Dawa” attend funeral prayers for Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar at a mosque in Islamabad, Pakistan, Saturday, August 1, 2015.
Finding a unifying leader like Mullah Omar will be nearly impossible for the Taliban, so a split is likely, it said.
The first round of formal talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban took place in Murree, Pakistan, at the beginning of July.
“This is a moment of opportunity” for the Taliban to choose war or peace, Washington’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Daniel Feldman, told journalists Friday.
A source very familiar with the Taliban told CNN’s Nic Robertson that despite the start of peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government, observers may want to reassess the rumors that Mansour is leading the group toward the peace process.
Mansour’s 30-minute broadcast to senior Taliban leaders comes less than a week after the Afghan government announced the 2013 death of former Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar. Because of the volume of reader comments, we can not review individual moderation decisions with readers.
This week the Taliban confirmed Omar had been dead for some time. The Taliban statement also specifically claimed that Mullah Omar never left Afghanistan, “even to go to Pakistan or to any other country”.
Omar’s direct role in day-to-day Taliban operations had been declining for years, according to Western diplomats in Afghanistan.
For much of his life, the Taliban leader, whose most identifiable feature – based on a single grainy image – was his one missing eye, largely stayed out of the spotlight.
The leadership reshuffle has put the brakes on further peace talks.
Mansour confirmed that one of his deputies was Sirajuddin Haqqani, the son of renowned jihadi leader Jalaluddin Haqqani, founder of the fearsome Haqqani militant network blamed for some of Afghanistan’s deadliest suicide attacks.
The movement has handed responsibility for the negotiations to members in its political office, based in Qatar, “and they are not aware of any such process”, the Thursday morning statement said.
Very little is known about the new Taliban king.
Haqqani’s family also rejected rumours of his death, according to an Afghan Taliban commander who spoke to the AFP news agency on condition of anonymity.