Kabul awaits new government amid economic crisis

Afghanistan's Taliban rulers were preparing on Thursday to unveil their new government as the economy teetered on the edge of collapse more than two weeks after the Islamist militia captured Kabul.

Residents in a Kabul market said they were happy because thefts and extortion had come to an almost total standstill out of fear of the Islamic Emirate, as the Taliban call themselves.

But others said their jobs and businesses had suffered a great deal in the past two weeks, since the takeover, as many people have fled the country and economic activities, especially banking and public services have been thrown into chaos.

The legitimacy of the new government in the eyes of international donors and investors will be crucial for the economy as the country battles drought and the ravages of a conflict that took the lives of an estimated 240,000 Afghans.

The Taliban have tried to present a more moderate face to the world since they swept aside the U.S.-backed government and returned to power last month, promising to protect human rights and refrain from reprisals against old enemies.

But the United States, the European Union and others have cast doubt on such assurances, saying formal recognition of the new government - and the economic aid that would flow from that - is contingent on action.

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