François Mitterrand's activist widow dies at 87

Danielle Mitterrand, a decorated member of the French Resistance and advocate for the poor who broke the mould as first lady alongside France's first Socialist President, died yesterday aged 87.

Ms Mitterrand died after being admitted to Georges Pompidou hospital in Paris for fatigue, her foundation France Libertés said.

She used the 14-year tenure of her husband, François Mitterrand, as a platform for her own leftist ideals. He died of cancer less than a year after leaving office in 1995. In an especially poignant moment in modern French politics, the widowed Danielle Mitterrand stood before the late President's coffin alongside his mistress and daughter, whose out-of-wedlock birth and existence were long kept secret from the public.

A determined if softly-spoken activist, Ms Mitterrand created several charities and advocated many left-leaning causes, supporting Marxist rebels in El Salvador and ethnic minorities including Kurds and Tibetans.

She was no novice at defending her convictions. As a young woman, she was awarded the Croix de Guerre for her work in the Resistance during the Nazi occupation in the Second World War.

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