PORT-AU-PRINCE – Former Haitian President Rene Preval died on Friday of a heart attack, a family friend told EFE. He was 74.
Preval died en route to a hospital in Port-au-Prince, according to Fritz Longchamp, who held several Cabinet posts in his friend’s administrations.
On Twitter, President Jovenel Moise expressed sadness about the death of Preval, calling him a “worthy son of Haiti.”
A Port-au-Prince native, Preval received his higher education in Belgium, where his family fled in 1963 during the dictatorship of François “Papa Doc” Duvalier.
Preval also lived for several years in the United States before returning to Haiti in 1975.
He entered politics in 1986, a few months before the ouster of strongman Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, and became allied with Aristide, then still a Catholic priest.
Preval ultimately joined the Lavalas party, which Aristide led to victory in the 1990 elections.
Aristide took office in early 1991, with Preval as his prime minister, but was overthrown in a military coup on Sept. 30.
After spending months holed up in the residence of the French ambassador to Haiti, Preval received political asylum in Mexico in early 1993.
Though the US military helped Aristide return to power in 1994, Preval did not resume his role in the government, opting instead to pursue the 1995 Lavalas presidential nomination, which he won.
Preval went on to prevail in the election and became president in 1996, succeeding Aristide, who was barred by law from seeking a second consecutive term.
Aristide won the 2000 election, but his second term – like the first – was cut short by a coup in 2004.
The election held in 2005 resulted in a second term for Preval.