|Indonesia's flag: one of Myuran Sukumaran's final painting (more here)|
The Indonesian President's chief political rival promised to publicly support Joko Widodo if he granted clemency to Bali Nine ringleaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.
The West Australian can reveal that military strongman Prabowo Subianto twice privately assured Mr Joko there would be no political consequences if Chan, Sukumaran and eight others on death row were reprieved.
Mr Prabowo's extraordinary behind-the-scenes intervention would have given the President face-saving political cover to spare the lives of Chan and Sukumaran.
It is understood that Mr Prabowo penned a letter to Mr Joko at the weekend in which he said that if the President were to "postpone the executions indefinitely", he would come out in support of the decision.
Mr Joko, under pressure from his political patron, former president Megawati Sukarnoputri, ignored the offer and the two Australians were killed by firing squad on Wednesday, along with four Nigerians, a Brazilian and an Indonesian.
Two people, a Frenchman and a Filipina woman, got late reprieves. Chan and Sukumaran's bodies were expected to be flown back to Australia today or tomorrow.
As reported by The West Australian in March, Australian diplomats sought Mr Prabowo's help to save Chan and Sukumaran, believing the former general could engineer a change of heart.
Mr Prabowo, the son-in-law of former dictator Suharto, narrowly lost last year's presidential race to Mr Joko but still wields great influence over Indonesia's Parliament and political system.
To Australian observers, Mr Prabowo had a much better grasp of the international repercussions for Indonesia if the executions went ahead.
Source: The West Australian, Andrew Probyn, Nick Butterly Canberra, May 1, 2015 (local time)
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