Afghanistan’s election crisis continued to deepen Tuesday as the campaign of second-place candidate Abdullah Abdullah warned that it will abandon a U.S.-brokered deal to end a political stalemate unless major changes are made in how millions of votes are being reexamined. Abdullah adviser Fazal Ahmad Manawi said the candidate has serious concerns that an ongoing audit of more than 8 million votes cast in a June runoff is not stringent enough to catch fraudulent ballots. He called the audit a “joke” and said new procedures must be implemented by Wednesday or Abdullah could walk away from the recount. “If by tomorrow morning our demands . . . are not accepted, our patience has ultimately run out,” said Manawi, who has been who was tasked by Abdullah with monitoring the recount. “We will consider this process a finished one, will not continue in it and not accept it, and the results will have no value to us.”
The tension comes as the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan and international observers race to complete the audit, which was expected to result in the election of only the second Afghan president since U.S.-backed Afghan forces drove the Taliban from power in 2001. The process has taken on more urgency in recent days because outgoing President Hamid Karzai has stressed that he is leaving office in one week and expects his successor to be inaugurated next Tuesday.