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Mercenary Denies Involvement in Assassination of President

December 6, 1989

MORONI, Comoro Islands (AP) _ A French mercenary in control of this Indian Ocean nation denied Tuesday that he assassinated President Ahmed Abdallah Abderrahmane.

Various diplomatic sources have suggested Bob Denard either directed or personally carried out the assassination Nov. 26 by firing a rocket-propelled grenade through the window of the presidential palace in Moroni, the capital.

In Cairo, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, chairman of the Organization of African Unity, expressed ″deep concern″ Tuesday over the situation here and said continued mercenaries’ control represents ″a flagrant challenge″ to international law and an ″aggression on legitimacy.″

″I call on the international community to take all necessary measures″ to right the situation in the Comoro Islands, a member of the OAU, Mubarak said in a press statement he issued as OAU chairmnan.

″I am not the assassin of President Abdallah,″ Denard said at a news conference at the headquarters of the 500-man presidential guard he commands.

He led a coup in 1975 that ousted Abdallah from power and an operation that returned him to the presidency in 1978.

Denard was convicted of playing a role in a failed coup in the West-Central African nation of Benin in 1977, and a Paris court reopened the case Tuesday in an apparent bid to pressure him to leave the Comoro Islands.

Benin gained independence from France in 1960 and the Comoro Islands in 1975.

Diplomats said there had been no major crackdown or arrests following Abdallah’s assassination and confirmed that Denard and two dozen white mercenaries under his command were in control of the islands.

″The mercenaries ... are in effective control of the sceurity situation, and the South African government is leading efforts to encourage Bob Denard to go into exile,″ said the U.S. charge d’affairs, Karl Danga.

South Africa has major investments in the island.

In the first major protest of Denard since Abdallah was slain, hundreds of people jeered the mercenary as he left a mosque after saying prayers Tuesday. The crowd chanted, ″Denard is an assassin 3/8″ and ″Mercenaries go home 3/8″

Diplomatic sources have said Denard is negotiating how much money he can take with him if he leaves and whether his mercenaries will be allowed to leave as well.

Denard denied that. ″Why should I leave?″ he said.

He acknowledged that South Africa had asked him to depart, but added: ″That isn’t good enough a reason.″

The Court of Appeal in Paris ordered the lower Correctional Tribunal to re- examine Denard’s conspiracy conviction for recruiting and leading 80 men to topple President Ahmed Kerekou of Benin on Jan. 16, 1977.

Denard was sentenced t and Belgian mercenaries kept him in office with the tacit approval of France and South Africa.

South Africa reportedly provided $5 million a year to the islands, including $2 million to finance the presidential guard.

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