Port-at-Prince, Mar 3 (AP) Rene Preval, the only democratically elected president of Haiti to win and complete two terms, has died at age 74.
Current President Jovenel Moise confirmed Preval's death in a Tweet today.
"I learned with sadness the death of former President Rene Preval," Moise said on his Twitter account. "I prostrate myself before the remains of this worthy son of Haiti."
The cause of death was not given. Preval had been treated for prostate cancer in Cuba in 2001.
Preval was elected by a landslide in 1995 as the chosen successor of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and turned power back over to Aristide when he left office five years later after a term marked by political infighting.
His second term, which started in 2006, was marred by the disastrous earthquake of January 12, 2010, which reportedly killed more than 310,000 people and displaced more than 1 million. Many Haitians accused him of a fumbling response to the tragedy.
Preval was born on Jan. 17, 1943, in the town of Marmelade in rural northern Haiti. His father, Claude, was an agronomist who served under President Paul Magloire and fled during the early years of the dictatorship of Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier.
Preval earned an agronomy degree from Gembloux Agricultural University in Belgium and later studied geothermal sciences at the University of Pisa in Italy.
In 1970, he moved to New York, where he worked as a waiter and a messenger. Five years later, he returned to Haiti and worked at the National Institute for Mineral Resources, according to an official biography.
In 1988, two years after a popular uprising ousted Duvalier's son, Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, Preval returned to Haiti and opened a bakery in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.
He supplied bread to an orphanage run by Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a Roman Catholic priest who led a movement to oust the younger Duvalier and later became the country's first democratically elected president.
Preval became a leading figure in Aristide's Lavalas political movement, which enjoyed a huge following among the poor and was feared and hated by the tiny community of elites who long dominated the country's economy and government.
Aristide, by now no longer a priest, was elected president in 1990 and appointed Preval to be his prime minister. A military coup ousted Aristide seven months into his term and the two leaders went into exile.
A US-led invasion restored Aristide to power in 1994 and he was allowed to serve the year-plus remaining in his term.
Running as Aristide's successor, and with his backing, Preval won 88 per cent of the vote in 1995 though only a quarter of eligible voters cast ballots.
Disclaimer :- This story has not been edited by Outlook staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds. Source: PTI