EU blasts new Taliban-formed government as neither ‘inclusive nor representative’

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The European Union on Wednesday criticised the interim government formed by the Taliban in Afghanistan as neither “inclusive” nor “representative” of the country’s ethnic and religious diversity.

“It does not look like the inclusive and representative formation of Afghanistan’s rich ethnic and religious diversity that we had hoped to see and that the Taliban promised in recent weeks,” an EU spokesman said in a statement.

Key positions in Afghanistan’s new caretaker government were announced by the Taliban on Tuesday evening. The cabinet is all-male and stacked with prominent Taliban fighters who already helmed key posts during the militant group’s hardline regime between 1996 and 2001.

Mohammad Hasan Akhund, now head of Afghanistan’s interim government, previously served as foreign minister and deputy prime minister.

The new executive’s number two, Abdul Ghani Baradar, is the group’s co-founder and took part in the negotiations over the US withdrawal, while the new interior minister, Sirajuddin Haqqani, is on the FBI’s most-wanted list.

EU foreign ministers had insisted last week that an “inclusive and representative” interim cabinet was “one of the five conditions set” for the establishment of relations between the 27-country bloc and the new Afghan government.

The bloc has for now frozen the more than €1 billion it had earmarked in development funds to Afghanistan over the coming seven years.

Germany has also issued reservations over the new government with Foreign Minister Heiko Mass saying in a statement on Wednesday that “the announcement of an interim government without the participation of other groups and yesterday’s violence against female demonstrators and journalists in Kabul are not signals that make us optimistic about that.”

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Maas later appeared alongside US Secretary of State Antony Blinken who warned the Taliban that any legitimacy “will have to be earned”.

The announcement of the new government came however after Taliban fighters shot in the air to disperse protesters in Kabul and arrested journalists.

China, meanwhile, has welcomed the formation of the new government. A spokesperson for the foreign ministry said that that it put an end to “three weeks of anarchy” in the country.

“It is an important step towards restoring order in the country and rebuilding it,” the spokesperson said, adding: “Afghanistan is now turning a new page in history.”

“It’s imperative for the international community to ponder how to avoid repeating the tragedy in Afghanistan,” he also said.

The Asian country, which shares 76 km of high altitude border with Afghanistan, is one of the few countries to keep its embassy in Kabul open despite security uncertainties.

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