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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Haiti Ready For Historic Power Shift

PORT-AU-PRINCE -- Ten years to the day after the collapse of the Duvalier family dictatorship, Haiti was set for a far different sort of transition Wednesday, its first transfer of power from one elected president to another.


Before parliament and a host of visiting dignitaries, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide will hand over to Rene Preval exactly one decade after Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier fled to exile, ending a 29-year dictatorship begun by his father, Fran?ois "Papa Doc" Duvalier.


Crowds of revelers had gathered outside Haiti's National Palace by Tuesday night, eating, singing and dancing in advance of the inaugural festivities Wednesday, declared a national holiday.


The peaceful transfer of power in Haiti comes 15 months after Aristide was restored to power by U.S.-led troops after spending three years in exile.


Preval, 53, served as prime minister in Aristide's first cabinet and joined him in exile after the September 1991 coup.


Preval told The New York Times in an interview published Wednesday that his top priorities were protecting people from political violence and rebuilding the economy.


"My mission is to bring everyone together and create confidence so a social partnership can emerge," he said.


Preval, landslide winner in December's presidential election, has been considered an ideological twin of the populist Aristide, but many political analysts have said recently that they expect Preval to be his own man.


"I suspect that he [Aristide] will be an adviser, but I also expect that President Preval and his government will be the authorities that operate and run the government in Haiti," Samuel Berger, U.S. President Bill Clinton's deputy national security adviser, said Tuesday.


Aristide said he intends to remain active in Haiti's affairs. Having been constitutionally barred by seeking re-election this December, he is expected to run again in 2000.