This turn of events is no surprise – rumours of corruption circulated months before polling. But the coalition is now in a very awkward position. Mr Karzai’s state of mind is frenetic – he views these allegations as more evidence that there is an Anglo-American plot to unseat him - and he will block any attempt to initiate a second round of voting. This is particularly alarming given the ethnic division between Karzai’s supporters and those of his opponent, Dr Abdullah. A contentious run-off will test the Afghan security forces' loyalities to tribe, ethnicity and state, and will reveal much about Afghanistan's long-term viability as a stable political entity. It was an achievement to hold elections at all, but an already over-stretched coalition force faces the prospect of escalating violence in consequence.