August 2, 2015 / 2:08 PM / 5 years ago

Mullah Omar's family does not endorse new Taliban leader - statement

Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, Taliban militants' new leader, is seen in this undated handout photograph by the Taliban. At the Taliban meeting this week where Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour was named as the Islamist militant group's new head, several senior figures in the movement, including the son and brother of late leader Mullah Omar, walked out in protest. REUTERS/Taliban Handout/Handout via Reuters.

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - The family of late Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar has not backed his announced successor, it said on Sunday, and wants the new chief to be chosen by leading Islamic scholars and veterans of the movement.

An audio statement, which four Taliban sources said was by Omar’s younger brother Abdul Manan, said the family had not given its baiyat, or pledge of allegiance, to Akhtar Mohammad Mansour and did not want to make a choice amid differences.

“Mullah Omar during his life had always stressed unity among the mujahideen,” said the statement released on Sunday.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid announced Mansour as the new leader in a statement on Friday, a day after confirming that Mullah Omar was dead.

However he faces opposition within the movement, including from Manan and Omar’s son Yaqoob, who were among more than a dozen Taliban figures who walked out of Wednesday’s leadership meeting in the western Pakistani city of Quetta, according to three people who were at the shura, or council.

While the late leader’s family does not appear to have a formal role in naming a successor, his prestige lends weight to their opinions.

Although the statement did not name Mansour directly, it underlined the obstacles he faces to consolidating his position as successor to the secretive longtime leader and founder of the radical Islamist movement.

The statement said the next leader should be appointed on the recommendations of leading Islamic scholars “and those mujahideen who had laid down the base of the Emirate of Afghanistan through their sacrifices”.

Reporting by Jibran Ahmad; Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Tom Heneghan

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