It seems everyone wants the Afghan presidential election to be over and done with. Except, maybe, for the two contenders. In the latest attempt to derail an audit of the votes, which was set in motion six weeks ago, Abdullah Abdullah (pictured above) declared on August 27th that he was leaving the process—less than a week before the next president is supposed to be inaugurated. Mr Abdullah, who claims his opponent, Ashraf Ghani, rigged more than 1m votes, has accused auditors of keeping fraudulent ballots in the tally. Faulting the United Nations for not taking his concerns seriously, he said the criteria for invalidating votes are not thorough enough to weed out all the fraud. Wednesday morning, August 27th, no observers from his team were to be found at the headquarters of the Independent Election Commission when the day’s audit began. Consequently, Mr Ghani also withdrew his observers.
Afghanistan’s audit is the most comprehensive the UN has ever undertaken; it takes more than light grumbling to stop it. After a pause, work resumed on Wednesday afternoon, without representatives of either candidate present. This was evidently not what Mr Abdullah had expected.
The prospect of an audit without oversight from Mr Abdullah’s team “sounds like a joke,” said Mahmoud Saikal, one of his senior advisers. Any result from such an audit would be unacceptable, he said: “It has no weight for us.” Conditions for invalidating votes were laid out clearly enough during two separate meetings in Kabul between the two candidates and John Kerry, America’s secretary of state. But Mr Abdullah is claiming he never formally agreed to the terms.