By Emmanuel Nduka
Taliban’s Supreme Leader, Haibatullah Akhundzada has made his first ever public appearance, officials announced on Sunday, after he addressed supporters in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar.
Akhundzada who has been the Spiritual Chief of the Islamist movement since 2016, has kept a low profile, even after his group seized power in August.
This had fed speculation to rumours of his death and his supposed role in the new Taliban Government.
Akhundzada visited the Darul Uloom Hakimah madrassa on Saturday to “speak to his brave soldiers and disciples”, Taliban officials said.
There was tight security at the event and no photographs or video have emerged, except a ten-minute audio recording that was shared by Taliban social media accounts.
Referred to as “Amirul Momineen” or Commander of the faithful, Akhundzada gave a religious message during his outing.
His speech however did not touch on politics, but sought God’s blessing for the Taliban Leadership. He also prayed for the Taliban martyrs, wounded fighters and the success of the Islamic Emirate’s officials in this “big test”.
Akhundzada succeeded Mullah Akhtar Mansour in 2016 as leader of the Taliban in a swift transition of power, after the former was killed by a US drone strike.