The audit of Afghanistan's presidential election has been halted after candidate Abdullah Abdullah threatened to pull his support for the recount. Allegations of vote-rigging have overshadowed the process.
The recount of some 8million votes was halted on Wednesday morning when Abdullah's observers refused to participate.
"We will not join the process today, and maybe we will not re-join the process at all," Fazel Aqa Hussain Sancharaki, a spokesman for Abdullah Abdullah, told AFP news agency.
"Talks are ongoing with the UN. If that reaches an agreement, we will come back. If not, that is the end of it."
Under a deal brokered by the United States, and with United Nations supervision, both sides had vowed to support the recount and respect its outcome.
A UN spokesperson confirmed there had been a "temporary disruption" to the process but declined to elaborate.
Results from early counting, halted by previous allegations by Abdullah of vote-rigging, showed Ashraf Ghani, a former finance minister and World Bank economist, leading with a substantial majority.
The stand-off has threatened to revive ethnic violence as many of Ghani's supporters are Pashtuns in the south and east, while Abdullah's loyalists are Tajiks and other northern groups. The turmoil also coincides with US-led NATO troops withdrawing from the country after 13-years of fighting the Taliban insurgents.
Outgoing President Hamid Karzai had earlier insisted that his successor be inaugurated next Tuesday.
hc/se (AFP, Reuters)