Meet the Taliban's new #1

  • 26/05/2016
Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada (Taliban/Twitter)
Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada (Taliban/Twitter)

The Afghan Taliban has confirmed it has a new leader.

Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada now heads up the militant group after his predecessor Mullah Akhtar Mansour was killed in a US drone strike.

"All the shura members have pledged allegiance to Sheikh Haibatullah in a safe place in Afghanistan," a statement from the Taliban said.

"All people are required to obey the new Emir-al-Momineen (commander of the faithful)."

Akhunzada, believed to be around 60 years of age and a member of the powerful Noorzai tribe, was a close aide to Omar and is from Kandahar, in the south of Afghanistan and the heartland of the Taliban.

An official Taliban account on Twitter posted a photograph of Akhundzada, informally known as Mullah Haibatullah, with a white turban and a long, greying beard.

The hardline Taliban movement banned human images for breaching their strict interpretation of Islam during their five-year rule over Afghanistan, which ended when they were ousted by a US-led military campaign.

Senior members of the insurgent group had been keenly aware of the need to appoint a candidate who could bring disparate factions together and repair the splits that emerged last year when Mansour was appointed.

However, there was no immediate indication of whether the appointment would lead to a shift in the stance of the Taliban, which under Mansour ruled out participating in peace talks with the government in Kabul.

A spokesman for Afghan chief executive Abdullah Abdullah called on the new Taliban leader to join talks, or face dire consequences.

"We invite Mula #Haibatullah to peace. Political settlement is the only option for #Taliban or new leadership will face the fate of #Mansoor," spokesman Javid Faisal said in a tweet.

The United States, Pakistan and China have also been trying to get the militants to the negotiating table to end a conflict that has killed thousands of civilians and security personnel and left Afghanistan seriously unstable.

AAP / Newshub.