So Karzai announced. His desire to have a second round, so that the bad taste of the first one could be washed away. His pride over being one of the two candidates running in that second round. His appreciation for the Afghan nation and how they participated in the election. His gratitude to the internationals for their support in difficult times.
It was a speech aimed at reassuring a nervous population afraid of confrontations turning violent, at reclaiming dignity, and at signalling to the international backers that all was going to be well. The speech was good. And there seemed to be a sense of relief hanging over the press conference (which did not stop the journalists from asking pointed questions).
During the press conference Karzai was flanked by a growing row of international Ambassadors. John Kerry and Kai Eide spoke. This was probably designed to show international unity and resolve and to lend weight and momentum to the announcement. But the obvious signs of Afghan support were missing. And if anyone was looking for proof of an international take-over, there it was.
The message of the press conference was designed to be clear: there will be a second round, there is no legal basis for a coalition government (we have never even spoken about one). In Afghanistan there are always backdoors, and we will need to see whether come tomorrow everyone really starts running to get ready in time, but for the moment it seems like we are heading towards another vote.
This article was last updated on 9 Mar 2020