David Blackburn

The political position in Kabul deteriorates

The political position in Kabul deteriorates
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It seems that a second Afghan election is now probable after Hamid Karzai’s share of the vote fell below 50%. The BBC reports that the drop is the result of the UN-backed Electoral Complaints Commission ordering that ballots from 210 polling stations be discounted. The pro-Karsi Independent Electoral Commission will deliver its verdict shortly, but is bound by the ECC, so a run-off seems likely.

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.