Afghanistan’s presidential election was cast into crisis on Wednesday as the candidate Abdullah Abdullah announced a boycott of the electoral process, accusing his opponent and President Hamid Karzai of engineering huge fraud in the runoff vote on Saturday. Rejecting the process laid out under Afghan electoral law, he called on the election commission to halt all vote-counting and immediately investigate any inflated ballot totals — steps that are designed to come after partial vote results are announced in the next few weeks. Mr. Abdullah also withdrew his election observers from the vote-counting and suspended his cooperation with the Independent Election Commission, which his campaign accuses of bias. If Mr. Abdullah were to reject the official results of the vote, it would cast into doubt an election that Western and Afghan officials alike have considered critical to the legacy of the long Western war in Afghanistan. The election’s legitimacy has been directly tied to the country’s stability, and to continued international aid now that Western troops are leaving.
Mr. Abdullah is complaining that as many as two million of the seven million votes initially estimated to have been cast Saturday are the result of methodical ballot-box stuffing, mostly in favor of his rival, Ashraf Ghani. He also claims that at least one senior member of the Independent Election Commission has been involved in trying to rig the election for Mr. Ghani.
But no official numbers at all have been released yet by the election commission, and Mr. Abdullah is trying to press his case before the official fraud adjudication phase.