Rene Préval (2006-2010)
Multiparty presidential and parliamentary elections in February and March 2006 were relatively stable and peaceful. Rene Preval, former President (1996-2001) and former ally to Aristide, won the presidential election with 51.15%. Partial results first showed he fell short of an absolute majority, which triggered demonstrations against alleged fraud. The later decision of the Electoral Council not to count blank ballots gave the victory to Preval.
The Parliament, composed of a 30-seat Senate and a 99-member Chamber of Deputies, was elected in two rounds held on February 7 and April 21, 2006. Lespwa is the main political force in both chambers but fell short of the majority. Fusion, UNION, Alyans, OPL, and Fanmi Lavalas have many representatives in both chambers. Preval chose his long-time political associate and former Prime Minister Jacques-Edouard Alexis to serve again as his Prime Minister. Additional rounds of parliamentary and municipal elections were held in December 2006 and April 2007. Citizens and international observers considered the election process acceptable, the results credible, and noted few incidents of violence or fraud.
Municipal elections were held December 3, 2006 and April 29, 2007. Some of these local government positions had not been filled in over a decade. The constitution required that, following local and municipal elections, local officials hold a series of indirect elections to staff departmental organs of self government and an interdepartmental council to advise the national government, as well as to nominate candidates for the Permanent Electoral Council. The three branches of the national government were to select from among these nominees the council's nine members.
Since these indirect elections did not take place, the country continued to operate with a Provisional Electoral Council (CEP). Lacking necessary presidential instructions to do so, the CEP, installed in December 2007, did not hold elections to replace one-third of the Senate, whose terms expired in May, and two other open Senate seats. As a result the Senate operated with 18 members instead of 30. The government rescheduled these elections for April 2009. Haiti's election overseers banned the Fanmi Lavalas slate [the party of the government ousted by the 2004 ] in February 2009. The Senatorial elections produced a turnout of less than 10 percent of eligible voters.
The CEP cited the lack of a comprehensive electoral law and a budget shortfall as impediments to elections. In June parliament passed a new electoral law that included a provision to increase the number of polling places. Many persons, including the president, declared the constitutionally mandated calendar of frequent elections either too impractical or too expensive.
The electoral legislation mandated that political parties presenting at least 30 percent female candidates and succeeding in electing 20 percent of them receive twice as much public financing for those same positions in the next election. The monetary deposit required of female candidates for political office (if sponsored by a recognized party) was one-half that required of male candidates. Eight women served in the 129-seat National Assembly, and four women sat in the 18-member cabinet, including the prime minister.
The constitutional government of President Rene Preval continued the monetary, fiscal, and foreign exchange policies initiated under the 2004-2006 interim government with the assistance of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Such policies include reducing interest rates to facilitate access to credit. Continued political instability and weak institutional capacity within the GoH and in the private sector have reduced the impact of the government's initiatives and hampered its ability to modernize its commercial, investment, tax, and banking laws.
Over the years 2008-2009 Haiti's political situation improved, but still remains fragile. Riots over the high price of food erupted in April 2008, which resulted in the fall of the government, but which did not target foreign business. There have been no recent cases of political groups targeting foreign projects and/or installations. Historically, politically motivated civil disorder, such as periodic demonstrations and labor strikes, occasionally interrupted normal business operations. Land invasions by squatters are a problem in both urban and rural areas, and requests for help to law enforcement authorities often go unanswered.
The year 2008 was characterized by political instability; food price rises followed by violent riots which caused serious damage in the private sector; and a deadly storm season that deeply impacted economic activities.
Former Haitian President Rene Preval died 03 March 2017 after suffering cardiac arrest, according to Haitian media reports. He was 74. Preval served two terms as president, once from 1996-2001, and again between 2006 and 2011. He was the first Haitian president to serve two full terms without being arrested, exiled or killed. Before becoming president, Preval worked in humanitarian aid and went to college in Belgium to study agronomy.
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