Rene Preval and his First presidency

René Garcia Préval had his first turn as Haitian president the first elected in the country's independent history who served a full term lasting from the 7th of February 1996 to the 7th of February 2001, previously having briefly served as Prime Minister in 1991. Préval won the five year seat with 88% of the popular vote, making him the second head of state elected through a democratic process in Haiti's 200 years of history.

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Rene Préval used his presidency to influence the implementation of various reforms to the economy, leading to a significant fall in the rate of unemployment by the end of his term, and to support the investigation of instances of human rights violations perpetrated by the police and the military. He brought about the privatization of government companies and, after dissolving parliament in 1999, spent the duration of his presidency ruling by decree.

These changes weren't met at every turn by favorable reviews. Political friction abounded as the opposition party members made up the majority of parliament. Members of the Lavalas party strongly opposed his changes to the economic structure and the program he developed for privatizing the government companies.

Rene Préval's past as an agronomist, a profession he shared with two other notable men, his father, a former Minister of Agriculture, and celebrated journalist Jean Dominique, whose killing took place during Préval's run as president, led him to developing and implementing an agrarian program for reforming the countryside. He also made steps to have land, overtaken by wealthy landowners, returned to Haiti's poor.

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Read more: rene preval, Election, Haitian President, Agronomist, Lavalas, Fanmi lavalas, Ruling by decree, Privatization, Government

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