Robert “Bob” Denard on October 13, 2007, at the age of 78, known for having performed various jobs in support of Françafrique (a term referring to France’s sphere of influence in its former colonies) for Jacques Foccart, in charge of French president Charles de Gaulle’s policy in Africa.
Born on April 7, 1929, Denard served as a colonial policeman in Morocco from 1952 to 1957.
In 1954, he was convicted of an assassination plot against Prime Minister Pierre Mendès-France, a left-wing member of the Radical-Socialist Party who was negotiating the end of the Indochina War and withdrawal from Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, and served 14 months in jail.
An adamant anti-Communist, Denard then took part in many anti-colonialist struggles, simultaneously on his own behalf and on the behalf of the French state.
He began his mercenary career, which was to span three decades, in Katanga, probably in December 1961 when he and other foreign mercenaries were brought in by the leader of the mercenaries in Katanga, Roger Faulques.
He became famous after rescuing white civilians encircled by rebels in Stanleyville. Denard fought there until the secessionist movement led by Moise Tshombe collapsed in January 1963.
After spending three years in South Africa, he returned to Paris, where he was given a suspended sentence for trying to overthrow Benin’s government in 1977 and was acquitted on charges of organizing Mr. Abdallah’s murder.
He wrote his autobiography and appeared to be ready to retire.
During his career, Denard also sold his skills to the Shah of Iran, royalists in Yemen and uprisings in post-colonial Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Angola.
While in Angola, where he once led mercenaries in by bicycle, Denard remained undaunted even when a bullet grazed his head, his biographer said.
In 1989, fearing a probable coup d’état, president Ahmed Abdallah signed a decree ordering the Presidential Guard, led by Bob Denard, to disarm the armed forces.
Shortly after the signing of the decree, a military officer allegedly entered president Abdallah’s office and shot him, injuring Denard at the same time.
A few days later, Bob Denard accepted to leave the Comoros after meeting French businessman Jean-Yves Ollivier, and was evacuated to South Africa by French paratroopers.
Then, in 1995, with a small band of men, he again returned to Comoros, but his attempt to seize power failed, and French troops were sent to the archipelago to restore order.
It was Mr. Denard’s last action as a mercenary; one that he was finally forced to answer for in court more than a decade later.