Afghan VP claims he's now caretaker president

Kabul: The Afghan vice president is claiming that after President Ashraf Ghani fled in the face of the Taliban sweep into Kabul over the weekend and with his whereabouts unknown, the vice president is the country's legitimate caretaker president.

Amrullah Saleh made the comment on Twitter on Tuesday. He cited the Afghan constitution was empowering him to declare this.

He wrote that he was reaching out to all leaders to secure their support & consensus.

As of now, Afghan leaders, including former President Hamid Karzai and peace council chief Abdullah Abdullah, have been negotiating with the Taliban since the fall of Kabul.

Meanwhile, a Taliban spokesman has pledged to honor women's rights, but within the norms of Islamic law.

Zabihullah Mujahid made the comment Tuesday at his first news conference. For years, he had been a shadowy figure issuing statements on behalf of the militants.

His assertion that the Taliban would protect women's rights comes after the Taliban's earlier rule saw women's lives and rights severely restricted.

Mujahid also said the Taliban wanted private media to remain independent, but stressed journalists should not work against national values.

Mujahid also stressed that Afghanistan would not allow itself to harbor anyone targeting other nations.

That was a key demand in a deal the militants struck with the Trump administration in 2020 that led to the ultimate US withdraw under current President Joe Biden.

He promised the insurgents would secure Afghanistan after they took over the country following a blitz that lasted over a week. He said the insurgents sought no revenge. Many Afghans have expressed fear that the Taliban will return the country the brutal rule they used when last in charge.

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