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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 February 2006, 10:20 GMT
Profile: Rene Preval
Rene Preval
Mr Preval's government was marred by a political deadlock

The winner of the controversial elections in Haiti, Rene Preval, is a former ally of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and has inherited his following among the poor.

The elected president - of the small L'Espwa (The Hope) party - enjoys strong popularity particularly in the slums of the country's capital, Port-au-Prince, thanks to his association with the leader who remains exiled in South Africa.

An agronomist who studied in Belgium, Mr Preval, 63, was active in the movement to oust military ruler Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier during the 1970s.

He was prime minister for a brief period in Mr Aristide's first administration, which was forced out of power in a 1991 military coup.

Mr Preval later replaced Mr Aristide as president between 1996 and 2001.

His government was marred by political deadlock. In 1999, following a series of disagreements with deputies, he declared that parliament's term had expired and began ruling by decree.

By the end of his term the political situation had further deteriorated.

The crisis eventually culminated in an armed uprising that forced Mr Aristide's second administration out of power in February 2004.

Analysts say the biggest unanswered question of the 7 February elections is how many people voted for Mr Preval in the hope that he would bring back the ousted leader.

Mr Preval has told the BBC that Mr Aristide may return if he wishes, but that he will not tolerate the violent groups that pledge him allegiance.


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