Haiti polls 'win for Aristide'

2006-02-17 15:22
Miami - Rene Preval's election as Haiti's new president is seen by some as a clear victory for Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who many experts say was undermined by Washington before he was toppled in an armed revolt two years ago.

Preval was declared the winner of Haiti's presidential election on Thursday, after an agreement between the United States-backed interim government and election officials about disputed results that defused a potentially explosive crisis concerning last week's vote.

Washington welcomed Preval's victory, saying it hoped to help build a new future in one of the world's most impoverished countries.

Populist leaders

US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice said: "We are going to work with the Preval government. We want this government to succeed. This is a chance for a country that has had too few chances."

Preval, a former president and one-time Aristide ally, was the latest in a series of populist leaders in the Western Hemisphere - elected since Hugo Chavez won the presidency in Venezuela in 1998 - who could pose a challenge to US policy.

Despite Washington's public endorsement, his victory might not go down well with the US government.

Presidential elections

Political analysts said that along with polls pointing to a win by staunch leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador after Mexico held its presidential elections in July, Preval's victory highlighted a fading US influence in Latin America and the Caribbean, a region Washington once controlled like its personal fiefdom.

Larry Birns, who headed the Washington-based Council on Hemispheric Affairs, think tank, said the US was more isolated in Latin America than Cuba, a country it had tried to marginalise for more than 50 years.

Birns called Preval's election "a putative victory for Aristide," since the new president shares many of Aristide's political philosophies and beliefs, and said Preval represented "Aristidism without Aristide'.

According to Haiti experts, that was something the US, along with France and Canada, had very much wanted to avoid.

Haitians 'live on $2 a day'

The problem was that populist appeals were a powerful force in places like Haiti, where most people lived on less than $2 a day. Preval found his strongest voter support in the same slums that formed Aristide's power base.

Eduardo Gamarra, director of the Latin American and Caribbean centre at Florida International University, said: "It's almost ridiculous to think that somebody could have won the election that hadn't had something to do with Aristide."

Critics had described Aristide as a tyrant who relied on violent street gangs to enforce his rule. But, Gamarra said he was still a very popular figure in Haiti.

According to Gamarra, the irony was that US troops were sent into Haiti after Aristide was deposed in a bloody rebellion in February 2004.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Inside News24


Top 10 richest musicians of all time

Check out the gallery to find out who they are!


Luxury living

10 of the most expensive things that will leave your jaw hanging!
Seven of the most expensive children's toys ever made
5 millionaires turned murderers
The youngest billionaires in the world and how they made it

Innovation, idealism, romanticism and other far reaching dreams can lead you into a spiral of enthusiasm and excitement. Somewhere...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.