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Head of Commonwealth Observers Comments On Malawi Vote -- No cheating observed, but there were problems - 2004-05-21

At a press conference in Blantyre Friday, the head of the commonwealth observer group said his monitors did not witness any cheating in Thursday?s polls. Justice JOSEPH WARIOBA noted, however, that his team could not be deployed everywhere.

He says, "The voting process was slow in some places because of the use of several (voter) rolls. The voters were generally patient, orderly and determined to cast their vote. The vote was generally cast in secrecy and we did not detect instances of cheating. The counting of votes was slow but transparent. The results process continues. And we make a final judgment on that at a later point. Polling day, however, cannot be seen in isolation from the rest of the electoral process. On the negative side, we have noted the serious inadequacies in the registration process and the inability of the Electoral Commission to resolve some important issues. We are also deeply concerned about the gross bias of the public media. The misuse of the advantages of incumbency is also a matter of grave concern to us. In our overall assessment of the whole electoral process, we'll take these matters into account."