Taliban to reveal new Afghan government

·3-min read

Afghanistan's Taliban rulers are preparing to unveil their new government as the economy teeters on the edge of collapse more than two weeks after the Islamist militia captured Kabul and brought a chaotic end to 20 years of war.

Taliban official Ahmadullah Muttaqi said on social media a ceremony was being prepared at the presidential palace in Kabul while Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters he could not give an exact date but it was a matter of days.

The legitimacy of the new government in the eyes of international donors and investors will be crucial for the economy as the country battles drought and the ravages of a conflict that took the lives of an estimated 240,000 Afghans.

The Taliban have promised to allow safe passage out of the country for any foreigners or Afghans left behind by the massive airlift which ended with the withdrawal of the last US troops on Monday.

But with Kabul airport still closed, many were seeking to flee overland to neighbouring countries.

Qatar Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said the Gulf state was talking with the Taliban and working with Turkey about technical support to restart operations at Kabul airport, which would facilitate humanitarian assistance and possibly more evacuations.

Speaking at a joint news conference with the Qatari minister in Doha, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said he would be talking with regional countries about how to secure safe passage through third countries for people who want to leave Afghanistan.

"The prospects of getting Kabul airport up and running and safe passage for foreign nationals and Afghans across land borders (are) top of the agenda," the British Foreign Office said in a statement.

The Taliban's supreme leader, Haibatullah Akhundzada, is expected to have ultimate power over a new governing council, with a president below him, a senior Taliban official told Reuters last month.

An unelected leadership council is how the Taliban ran their first government which brutally enforced a radical form of sharia Islamic law from 1996 until its ouster by US-led forces in 2001.

The Taliban have tried to present a more moderate face to the world since they swept aside the US-backed government and returned to power last month, promising to protect human rights and refrain from reprisals against old enemies.

But the United States, the European Union and others have cast doubt on such assurances, saying formal recognition of the new government - and the economic aid that would flow from that - is contingent on action.

"We're not going to take them at their word, we're going to take them at their deeds," US Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland told a news briefing on Wednesday.

"So they've got a lot to prove ... they also have a lot to gain, if they can run Afghanistan, far, far differently than they did the last time they were in power."

Gunnar Wiegand, the European Commission's managing director for Asia and the Pacific, said the European Union would not formally recognise the Islamist group until it met conditions including the formation of an inclusive government, respect for human rights and unfettered access for aid workers.

Britain's Raab said there was a need to engage with the Taliban on Afghanistan but Britain had no immediate plans to recognise their government.

Afghanistan desperately needs money, and the Taliban are unlikely to get swift access to the roughly $US10 billion in assets mostly held abroad by the Afghan central bank.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting