Runner-up in Afghan Presidential Election Calls Results a "Coup"

Afghanistan's election drama got worse this week when the preliminary results of last month's presidential runoff were released to show contender Abdullah Abdullah losing by a wide margin. His camp responded by calling the election a "coup" against the people's votes.

This sets Abdullah on the path to creating a parallel government and further pits him against Ashraf Ghani, who won the runoff with 56.44 percent of the vote. That number could change when the official results are released by the election commission on July 22. Abdullah and his camp say the entire election is fraudulent and are asking for a recount of at least 7,000 votes.

Abdullah spokesman Mujib Rahman Rahimi told Reuters yesterday, "We don't accept the results which were announced today and we consider this as a coup against people's votes." To a crowd of supporters Tuesday morning, Abdullah said he would never "accept a fraudulent government. We are the winners of this round of elections, without any doubt."

Abdullah didn't explicitly say he'd make a power grab, however. "We don't want civil war, we don't want a crisis. We want stability, national unity, not division," he told the crowd.

Ghani's supporters, who come mostly from the Pashtun tribes in the south and east, are currently celebrating in the streets. Abdullah draws much of his support from Afghanistan's Tajik minority.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has, of course, expressed concern about what will happen when the supposed fraud is investigated and the final votes are tallied. Reuters notes, "Without a unifying leader accepted by all sides, Afghanistan could split into two or more fiefdoms along tribal fault lines, or even return to the bloody civil war of the 1990s."

The election was supposed to be the first democratic transfer of power in Afghanistan's history.

[Image via AP]