Haiti’s former president Rene Preval, an agronomist and champion of the poor who served two terms as the country’s leader, has died after suffering cardiac arrest, local media reported Friday, citing his sister. He was 74.
With a reputation as an honest and efficient administrator, Preval served as president from 1996-2001 and again in 2006-2011.
Preval first served as prime minister to Jean-Bertrand Aristide but later distanced himself from his one-time ally, who fled Haiti under pressure before returning in 2011 following seven years in exile.
Born on January 17, 1943 in Port-au-Prince, Preval studied agronomy in Belgium. He lived for five years in New York in the 1970s.
After he returned to Haiti in 1975, he got a job with the National Institute for Mineral Resources.
He later became active in humanitarian work, including at an orphanage in Port-au-Prince run by Aristide, who was then a Roman Catholic priest.