The rise of
Rene Preval as Haiti's first elected president since a bloody
uprising in 2004 ousted Jean-Bertrand Aristide marks a stunning
reemergence for a man that first came to power in 1996 when he
replaced Aristide, his longtime ally and mentor, as the island
infighting between Preval's administration and the country's parliament
marred his time in office and led to a relatively peaceful though
and 2001, before he handed power back to Aristide, worked to return
land taken over by wealthy landowners to the country's poor and
tapped his agronomy education in Belgium to establish agricultural
programs in Haiti's rural areas.
in office, Preval was not as bad a head of state as others Haiti
has had," Jean-Germaine Gros, a Haiti analyst at the University
of Missouri, told Reuters. "He does have a record of some
a big marketplace downtown," Haitian street sweeper Yves
Valea told CNN. "He fixed it so that the vendors could get
out of the mud."
In 1996, Preval
visited the United States, where he met with then-President Bill
Clinton to discuss the economic plight of his country.
priority right now is that democracy must be strengthened by economic
progress," Preval told the NewsHour in a March 1996 interview
following his meeting with Clinton. "The first thing that
we are trying to reach is the increase of the national production,
especially agricultural production."
But few of
his loftier goals outlined when he came to power were realized
during his tenure.
Yet when he
left office in 2001, Preval became the first president in Haiti's
202-year history to win a democratic election, complete his term
in office and hand power to a successor, Reuters reported.
in office, I think those in the United States government who dealt
with him found him personally to be honest and accessible if rather
undynamic," James Dobbins, an expert on Haitian politics,
told the NewsHour.
2006 election, poor Haitians remembered Preval's loyalty during
his first term and it was the country's working classes that helped
nudge him to victory, giving him a 51 percent lead over his rivals,
the country's electoral commission reported.
leader of the country's L'Espwa, or Hope, Party now faces a difficult
road in Haiti. He faces opposition from the country's wealthy
elite, a group who helped oust Aristide and who see Preval simply
as a shadow of the exiled leader.
must regain control of Haiti's streets, where armed gangs have
carried out kidnappings and taken control of a rampant drug and
gun trafficking trade since Aristide's 2004 ouster.
In an interview
with Reuters soon after the election, Preval said his priorities
included decentralizing the government, strengthening the police
and judiciary and achieving the "great dream" of primary
education for all Haitians.
swearing in on May 14, 2006, Preval urged Haitians to maintain
security so the country could create jobs, build roads and hospitals
and move forward "without the presence of foreign troops," reported
the Associated Press.
the solution to our problems is in our hands," he said. "Please
help me, help the country, help yourself."
Compiled from wire reports and other media sources