Afghanistan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah said Monday he will reject the outcome of the election's second round expected to be released this week.
The announcement forces the long-running feud between Abdullah, the former foreign minister, and opponent Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, the former finance minister, back into what Abduallah called a "deadlock."
Abdullah said he had already won because he believes Afghans voted for him during the April election and the subsequent July runoff. The results of the latest round of voting have undergone an extensive audit process to combat election fraud both candidates have accused the other of gaining.
"We were the winners of the election," Abdullah said in a press conference, with the Associated Press noting he "appeared uncomfortably and possibly tired as he spoke behind a wooden podium." "We are the winners of the election based on the real vote of the people."
The move delays talks to form a national unity government and may affect international — largely, the U.S.'s — support for the country.
Secretary of State John Kerry had brokered a power-sharing deal in July, but if the deal fails between the candidates, other agreements between the countries could fail. These include an agreement that would keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan, as well as the funding needed to fend off Taliban insurgents who will attempt to retake power after the U.S. leaves.
"The opposition team wants a political agreement which is violating the Afghan constitution and that could be a non-starter," Mohammad Daud Sultanzoi, a key aide in Ghani's camp, told Bloomberg.
President Barack Obama called the candidates Saturday, urging negotiations. The U.N. and Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan had completed the audit Friday, and had aimed to inaugurate a new president following the Sept. 10 deadline.
In the meantime, Abdullah has not announced his next steps, saying only that he would make a decision "based on consultations with the people."