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Head of Taliban's Qatar office quits following internal dispute

The death of leader Mullah Omar has led to internal splits within the Taliban
Security guards stand outside the Taliban political office in Doha (AFP)

The head of the Taliban’s offices in Qatar has quit following disagreements over the Afghanistan-based organisation’s new leadership.

Following the revelation that Mullah Omar, the elusive head of the Afghan Taliban, had died in 2013, Mullah Akhtar Mansour took over as the new leader.

However, Mansour’s appointment has stirred up divisions within the Taliban, who have fought an insurgency against the Afghan government since being thrown out of power by a 2001 US-led coalition.

"In order to live with a clear conscience and abide by the principles of Mullah Omar, I decided that my work as head of the political office has ended," said Tayeb Agha, head of the Qatar office, in a statement published on a website regularly used by the Doha office and confirmed by a Taliban source.

"I will not be involved in any kind of (Taliban) statements... and will not support any side in the current internal disputes within the Taliban."

He added that he considered the decision to keep the death of Mullah Omar secret for two years had been a “historical mistake.”

The Taliban first arrived in Qatar in 2010, viewing the country as a neutral operator in facilitating peace talks with the US.

Haroon Mir, a Kabul-based political analyst, said that the death Mullah Omar had opened up major divisions in the group.

"The death of Mullah Omar and rise of Mullah Mansour have served as a game changer for the Taliban," he told AFP.

"The Taliban began the peace talks from a strong and united position. Today, however, they are weakened, stressed, and increasingly fragmented."

Mullah Omar had not been seen in public since the 2001 invasion, with only one grainy photo even providing evidence of his appearance and suspicions that he might have been dead.

Some commentators have gone so far as to suggest that the Taliban fears losing supporters to the Islamic State as a result of Omar’s death.

"With no Mullah Omar around, the various factions of the Taliban may just split up," said CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen.

"There will be more Taliban groups who might be inclined to swear their allegiance [to IS].”

Prior to 2001, the Taliban had ruled Afghanistan with an authoritarian rule in which they implemented a hardlined version of Islamic law.

They originally took power in the early 90's following the end of a long war with the Soviet Union in the country.

Osama bin Laden, former leader of al-Qaeda, previously described Taliban-controlled Afghanistan as the "only Islamic country" in the world.

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