French Mercenaries, Violence and Systems of Domination in Sub - Saharan Africa (1960 - 1989)

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The revival of mercenaries is a phenomenon occurring concomitantly with African decolonization. From 1960 to the end of the Cold War mercenaries took part in the development of political and armed violence on the African continent. This book highlights the activities of French mercenaries and provides key witness of their active role in the local turmoil and violence in post-colonial African states with the major players of industry, arms trafficking, non-African actors imposing their influence and the African powers themselves.

Table of Contents

Mercenaries, Acts of Violence and Private Economic Interests

Katanga: colonial mining interests and mercenaries
-A mining area at the heart of a badly prepared decolonization
-The money of mining and the hiring of mercenaries

Shared interests paving the way for new relationships in subsequent crises
-Ambiguities on the role of mercenaries in Mobutu’s Congo
-Arms dealers, the other private partner of mercenaries
-The Elf Company and mercenaries

Mercenaries are not only combatants
-From business networking agents to business men
The “White” sultan of the Comoros Islands”, an intermediate link between political power and investments

Mercenaries, Violence and Geopolitics in Post-Colonial Africa during the Cold War
Katanga, the birth of French mercenary activity
-From colonial power to maintaining a French backyard in Africa
-Katanga: increasing backyard among French speakers
-The Congo at the heart of neo-colonial and pro-Western domination
-Nigerian Civil War, predatory intent from non-African States

The Second Cold War: mercenaries and services, anti-communism and defence of French interests
-Angola: Cold War violence in the field in Africa
-Mercenaries, the SDECE and French backyard in Africa in the 1970s

Mercenaries, Violence and State Constructions
Counter-insurgency know-how available for the new African states
-Regaining control of the vast Congolese territory
Counter-insurgency in Rhodesia: violence and counter-violence

The PG, a pillar of the Abdallah regime in the Comoros: the heart of political repression
-Authoritarian abuses of the regime and military conspiracy by the political opposition
-An increasingly contested security unit

Mercenary activity and targeted assassinations in African politics
-The violent deaths of the first two Comorian presidents
-The ‘Gabonese Clan’ (Pierre Péan): mysterious disappearances in Gabon

The weight of mercenaries in political domination systems in Africa: difficulty in establishing a legal response
Volunteers and mercenaries in Africa during the Cold War
-Katanga: the military force of the foreigners in political and military violence of an African crisis
-Armed volunteers, a position difficult to condemn
Initiatives in Africa against the mercenaries
-OAU progress

Mercenaries and international humanitarian law
-The consequence of the aborted coup in Benin in January 1977
-France accused for its mercenaries’ actions
-International humanitarian law and post-Cold War mercenary activity


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