"There is absolutely, his words, 'zero appetite' for a run-off election with just one unopposed candidate and, therefore, a foregone conclusion as to who was going to be elected.
"It would be a return of the current president, Hamid Karzai."
There was no guarantee that the second election would avoid the corruption and security issues that marred the first, but where does this leave the Kabul government and the wider Afghan project? With or without elections, the Kabul government and the agents of the nascent Afghan state are totally discredited, unable to extend their writ beyond the confines of Kabul’s security precinct. Karzai is the perpetual problem, but he alone is strong enough to form a government. If ever there was an indication that centralisation does not provide the route to long-term stability then this it.
UPDATE: Karzai has been declared President.