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Afghan govt says it won’t separately deal with Taliban

KABUL: The Afghan government addressed the growing leadership crisis in the Afghan Taliban for the first time on Monday, saying it will not deal with the militant group separately from other “armed opposition” in the country.
The statement from Afghan 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 Afghan Taliban and the government halted last week after Afghan authorities announced that Mullah Omar had died in April 2013.
The Taliban confirmed Mullah Omar’s death and said Mullah Akhtar Mansour had been elected to replace him.
Relatives of Mullah Omar have contested Mullah Mansour’s appointment, demanding a wider vote that includes battlefield commanders as their nearly 14-year-long insurgency continues.
The Afghan Taliban have been trying to present a unified front in recent days with several statements. A statement from the group on Monday offered condolences for Mullah Omar and congratulations for Mullah Mansour.
“All these messages and support show the people’s unity and love toward their Islamic Emirate,” it said.
An internal Taliban split could jeopardise peace talks which began last month. Mullah Mansour is widely seen as having pushed the Taliban into the negotiations at Pakistan’s bidding.

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