Taliban’s Qatar chief quits as leadership rift deepens

Updated 04 August 2015
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Taliban’s Qatar chief quits as leadership rift deepens

KABUL: The head of the Taliban’s Qatar-based political office has stepped down, a statement said, a high-profile resignation within leadership ranks highlighting growing discord over the movement’s recent power transition.
Mullah Akhtar Mansour was announced as the new Taliban chief on Friday after the insurgents confirmed the death of Mullah Omar, who led the militant movement for some 20 years.
But splits immediately emerged between Mansour and rivals challenging his appointment, exposing the Taliban’s biggest leadership crisis in recent years and one that raises the risk of a factional split.
Underscoring the deepening internal divisions, Tayeb Agha stepped down on Monday as head of the Taliban’s political office, set up in Qatar in 2013 to facilitate peace talks.
“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,” Agha said in the 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.”
Agha added that consensus should have been sought from insurgent strongholds inside Afghanistan over the new leader’s appointment.
The Taliban source said Mansour’s aides were trying to convince Agha to withdraw his resignation but his statement adds to a growing chorus of dissent in the movement over the increasingly bitter political transition.
“The death of Mullah Omar was kept secret for two years,” Agha said. “I consider this a historical mistake.”
The Taliban have not given details of when and where Omar died but the Afghan government said it happened in Karachi in April 2013.


US reviews report of imports from forced labor in China camp

Updated 32 min 51 sec ago
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US reviews report of imports from forced labor in China camp

BEIJING: The US government said Tuesday that it is reviewing reports of forced labor at a Chinese detention camp where ethnic minorities must give up their religion and language and may be subject to political indoctrination.
US Customs and Border Protection said in a statement that reporting by The Associated Press and other media “for the first time appears to link the internment camps identified in Western China to the importation of goods produced by forced labor by a US company.”
The AP tracked shipments from a factory in a detention camp in China’s Xinjiang region to Badger Sportswear in North Carolina. The company ships clothing to universities, colleges and schools around the United States.
Following the reports, Badger said that it had suspended business with the Chinese supplier and was investigating.
The Washington-based Workers Rights Consortium, which has agreements with many educational institutions to make sure the products they sell on campus are ethically manufactured, said that “forced labor of any kind is a severe violation of university codes of conduct.”
It’s against US law to import products of forced labor. Customs and Border Protection said it is part of its mission to enforce “both laws to protect individuals from forced labor and our Nation’s economy from businesses profiting from this form of modern slavery.”