Less than 48 hours after a runoff election to choose the next president of Afghanistan, the first signs of a looming political crisis emerged on Monday, with the campaign of Abdullah Abdullah claiming there had been widespread ballot stuffing and suggesting he was being set up for a defeat he would not accept. A senior campaign official for Mr. Abdullah, who won the most votes in the election’s first round, said the candidate believes President Hamid Karzai and a coterie of advisers around him orchestrated the fraud. The aim, in the estimation of the Abdullah campaign, was either to install Ashraf Ghani, the other candidate for president, or to see Mr. Karzai use a postelection crisis as an excuse to extend his own term in office.
The official, who is familiar with Mr. Abdullah’s thinking, questioned the neutrality of electoral officials and the courts, saying the candidate had no expectation that complaints would be addressed. Campaign officials also accused Mr. Ghani of being complicit in fraud.
In his public statements, Mr. Abdullah has also suggested there was widespread fraud, though he has not leveled direct accusations at Mr. Karzai or other officials. Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Mr. Abdullah questioned initial reports that more than seven million Afghans had voted. (His campaign figures five million would have been more realistic.) He also said that his campaign staff had witnessed ballot stuffing in Kabul and elsewhere in favor of Mr. Ghani, and that some of the fraud was conducted by a senior elections officials.