He's No Rocky

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GAZA CITY, GAZA STRIP: Although no one is contesting PLO Chief Yasser Arafat's landslide victory in the first Palestinian elections over the weekend, allegations of widespread cheating in the parliamentary voting are spreading, as charges of manipulated results, disappearing ballot boxes, and intimidation at the polls are being levelled against administrators of the elections. TIME's Jamil Hamad reports from the West Bank: "The cheating will be the big issue. The story is growing by the hour. In Hebron, ballot boxes were missing and then found. One candidate in Gaza was told she won, then told later she lost. It is not just one person or one candidate; it appears to be wholesale cheating. The general feeling is that the observers were ill-equipped to monitor the elections, and thus made cheating very easy. Most of the reports I have received say that many people voted without registering. If these reports turn out to be true, then the Palestinians have to make an important choice: whether to be just another dictatorial and corrupt Middle East country, or whether to be the second democratic country in the region. They will have to decide this. That is the challenge."