2 Indonesia pollsters that predicted Prabowo election win censured after refusing audit

An Indonesian official checking election materials at a local election office in Jakarta on July 7, 2014. Indonesians vote on July 9, in the country's most pivotal presidential election since the downfall of dictator Suharto, with Jakarta governor Jo
An Indonesian official checking election materials at a local election office in Jakarta on July 7, 2014. Indonesians vote on July 9, in the country's most pivotal presidential election since the downfall of dictator Suharto, with Jakarta governor Joko Widodo and an ex-general with a chequered human rights record in a tight race. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (AFP) - Two Indonesian polling agencies that predicted a win for candidate Prabowo Subianto in last week's bitterly fought presidential election were on Wednesday expelled from the main industry body after refusing to undergo an audit.

Seven polling agencies whose unofficial tallies showed his rival, Jakarta governor Joko Widodo, leading were audited and declared sound, said the body that represents many of Indonesia's survey institutes.

Both candidates have declared victory in the tightest and most divisive presidential election since the downfall of dictator Suharto in 1998, basing their claims on tallies from different pollsters.

Official results are not expected until Tuesday, as some 130 million votes are counted by hand across the world's third-biggest democracy.

However most credible pollsters showed Mr Joko, seen as a fresh face in a country still dominated by figures from the authoritarian era, with a lead of between 2 and 7 percentage points.

Mr Prabowo, a top general in the Suharto era with a chequered human rights record, based his claims on tallies from less well-known survey institutes.

As controversy grew over the conflicting tallies, the Indonesian Association for Public Opinion Surveys called in several of the institutes for an audit of their methodology, including two that had shown Mr Prabowo in the lead.

However those two, JSI and Puskaptis, refused to undergo checks, prompting the association to announce on Wednesday that they were being expelled.

"If they refused that means they are hiding something," said Mr Hamdi Muluk, a member of the association's board of ethics.

Political tensions have been rising since the July 9 vote, with each side accusing the other of seeking to rig the vote count.

Mr Joko, 53, had a lead of some 30 percentage points several months ago, but it rapidly dwindled in the face of a well-organised campaign from Mr Prabowo and a string of smear attacks.

Mr Prabowo, 62, won popularity with promises of strong leadership and was also helped by support from several Islamic parties, an advantage in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country.

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