Préval, René Garcia

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René Garcia Préval (rənā´ gärsēä´ prāväl´) 1943–, Haitian political leader, president (1996–2001; 2006–11) of Haiti. Préval's family went into exile (1963) during the Duvalier years (his father had been a government minister), and he was trained as an agronomist at the State Agricultural College, Gembloux, Belgium. After subsequently residing in the United States, he returned to Haiti, and during the 1980s became a close friend of Jean-Bertrand Aristide. In 1990 he was appointed (1990) prime minister by Aristide, but the government was overthrown in 1991. After Aristide was restored (1994) to the presidency, Préval ran (1996) for and won the office when his friend could not succeed himself. Préval's first term was marked by economic reform, but disagreements with the parliament he ruled (1999–2000) by decree. In 2006, he again ran for president, as the candidate of his own Lespwa [hope] party, and was the front-runner, but he faced a possible runoff amid apparent fraud. Supported by huge popular protests, he was declared winner in the 32-candidate field. Although his second term saw some economic development, his government was overwhelmed in the aftermath of the devastating Jan., 2010, earthquake and oversaw flawed elections in 2011.