Afghanistan: Taliban prepare to set up new government as US evacuation nears end

The Taliban said on Saturday they would announce a new government for Afghanistan in the coming week and expected the economic turbulence and sharp currency falls that followed their takeover of the city two weeks ago to subside quickly.

Zabihullah Mujahid, the movement’s main spokesman, made the comments to Reuters as the US military winds down its mission to evacuate US citizens and vulnerable Afghans and withdraw troops from Kabul airport ahead of the August 31 deadline set by President Joe Biden.

Mujahid condemned an overnight US drone strike against Islamic State militants following Thursday’s suicide attack near the airport as a “clear attack on Afghan territory”.

But he appealed to the United States and other Western nations to maintain diplomatic relations after their withdrawal, which he expected would be completed “very soon”.

There is mounting frustration in Kabul at the severe economic hardship caused by a plummeting currency and rising food prices, with banks still closed two weeks after the fall of the city to the Taliban.

Mujahid said officials had already been appointed to run key institutions including the ministries of public health and education and the central bank.

Taliban success in Afghanistan amid chaotic US departure seen as boost for extremists from Africa to South Asia

United Nations officials have warned that Afghanistan faces a humanitarian catastrophe, with large parts of the country suffering from extreme drought conditions.

The economy, shattered after four decades of war, also faces the loss of billions of dollars in foreign aid, following the withdrawal of Western embassies from the country.

Mujahid said the economic problems being experienced would be eased once the new government was in place.

“The fall of afghani against foreign currency is temporary and it is because of the situation that suddenly changed, it will come back to normal once the government system starts functioning,” he said.

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