Election officials in Haiti named Rene Preval the winner in the country's presidential election. He defeated thirty-two other candidates.
Mr. Preval was president from 1996 to 2001, and was Haiti's first elected president to serve a complete term. Mr. Preval told reporters, "We have won, we thank God and the population." Juan Gabriel Valdes, the United Nations special envoy in Haiti, said, "Mr. Preval has a very critical role in inviting Haitians to participate in the future of the country and to have an open dialogue with all sectors."
The decision to declare Mr. Preval the victor followed a dispute over whether he had a majority of the votes needed to avoid a run-off election. Mr. Preval won thirty-eight percentage points more than his nearest challenger, but appeared to fall just short of the over fifty percent of the vote needed to secure a first round victory. The interim government and Provisional Electoral Council reached an agreement to redistribute blank votes among all the candidates. The change gave Mr. Preval fifty-one percent of the votes. It met with broad support in Haiti and the international community because it reflected the will of the Haitian people and respected Haitian laws and regulations.
The new president will take over from an interim government headed by President Boniface Alexandre and Prime Minister Gerard Latortue. They were selected in 2004 by a Council of Eminent Persons, or C-E-P, to form a government to replace the one headed by former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Following a year of growing protest against his autocratic rule, Mr. Aristide resigned and fled into exile as armed rebels marched on Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital, in February 2004.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the U.S. is "going to work with the Preval government":
"We want this government to succeed. . . .We're going to work to see what other resources we may need to support this government, because it's in our interests that there be a democratic Haiti, and a Haiti that is stable and starting finally to move toward prosperity."
The Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Jose Miguel Insulza, said, “this has been a historic election for Haiti, given the voter turn-out and the calm that prevailed on election day.” He said he was pleased with “this important move for the future of Haiti, which is of utmost importance.” He expressed the hope that the C-E-P decision would boost institutional strengthening in Haiti, and said he understands that “the new president will invite his political opponents to engage in dialogue, so that together they can change Haiti’s situation.”
Mr. Preval's election as Haiti's president, says Secretary of State Rice, "is a chance for a country that has had too few chances,"
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.