International observers warned today that delays in counting votes from Indonesia's freest vote in 44 years could erase public trust in the Southeast Asian nation's fledgling democracy.

By tonight, only 5.6 percent of votes cast in Monday's parliamentary elections had been tabulated, a fraction of what had been promised by that stage.

"This does not indicate any illegalities or improprieties, but it does arouse questions and concerns," said former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, whose Atlanta-based Carter Center dispatched 100 observers.

Election officials blamed the delays on laborious checks against cheating, their lack of experience and logistical challenges in a nation of 210 million people on 13,000 islands.

"We have to understand that across the country, we have workers who are not capable of doing speedy work," said Rudini, chairman of the General Election Commission. "The election commission has opted for accuracy, not speed." Rudini, like many Indonesians, uses only one name.

Foreign observers reported Monday that the vote appeared to have gone smoothly with only scattered irregularities. Today they were more cautious.

"I am extremely concerned about the slowness with which the count has taken place," said John G. Morgan, head of a team of monitors from the European Union. "We also have reports of discrepancies in the vote tallies."

Even though opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle was leading in early results, it criticized the slowness of the count.