Taliban name UN envoy, ask to address UNGA

Kabul: The Taliban have demanded representation at this week’s United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) session, thereby challenging the credentials of the pre-existing envoy of the country.

The Taliban have named a new UN permanent representative – Mohammad Suhail Shaheen, once a spokesperson for the insurgents during peace negotiations in Qatar.

The move is expected to trigger a diplomatic battle between Afghanistan’s former UN envoy and the Taliban rulers over the high-level meeting of the international body.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres received a communication on September 15 from the currently accredited Afghan Ambassador, Ghulam Isaczai, with the list of Afghanistan’s delegation for the assembly’s 76th annual session.

Five days later, Guterres received another communication with the letterhead ‘Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs,’ signed by ‘Ameer Khan Muttaqi’ as ‘Minister of Foreign Affairs,’ requesting to participate in the UN gathering of world leaders.

Muttaqi said in the letter that former Afghan president Ashraf Ghani was “ousted” as of August 15 and that countries across the world “no longer recognize him as president,” and therefore Isaczai no longer represents Afghanistan, Dujarric said.

However, it is not yet known if the UN credentials committee is going to legitimize this request. An official from the panel told the Associated Press under strict condition of anonymity that the UN committee “would take some time to deliberate”, suggesting the Taliban’s envoy would not be able to speak at the General Assembly at this session at least during the high-level leaders’ week.

Afghanistan is scheduled to give the last speech on the final day of the high-level meeting on September 27.

The makeup of the new Taliban government poses a dilemma for the United Nations. Several of the interim ministers are on the UN’s so-called blacklist of international terrorists and funders of terrorism.

No women in Taliban’s new cabinet

Kabul: The Taliban announced a list of deputy ministers and once again did not name any woman, despite an international warning that the group’s recognition would be linked to the treatment of women and minorities.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid present that list of new names at a press conference in the Afghan capital of Kabul.

Mujahid defended the expansion of the cabinet, saying it included members of ethnic minorities, such as Hazaras. He also said that women might be added later.

The Taliban announced an interim setup to govern Afghanistan on September 7.

Image courtesy of (credit: Twitter@ suhailshaheen1)

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