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World

Former Haitian President Rene Preval Dies At 74

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Haiti's former president, Rene Preval, died yesterday. He was 74 and leaves behind a mixed legacy. NPR's Carrie Kahn reports.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: Haiti's current president tweeted news of Preval's death calling him a worthy son of Haiti. No cause of death was given. Rene Preval will be best known as the first democratically elected president to complete a full term and peacefully hand over power to his successor. It's a difficult task in Haiti's rough-and-tumble politics - one he did twice. During Preval's first term, he was recognized as a hard worker, enacting land reform, paving roads and, most notably for Haiti, not engaging in massive corruption or human rights abuses, as had been the case with past presidents and dictators. His second term, however, will be remembered more for his lackluster leadership after the devastating earthquake of 2010, which claimed the lives of as many as 300,000 people and destroyed most of Port au Prince, the capital. In a 2011 NPR interview - just months before he was to leave office - the affable Preval did not hide his glee at being close to retirement.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

KAHN: How do you want to be remembered?

RENE PREVAL: I want to go home (laughter). That's it.

KAHN: In May of 2011, he once again peacefully handed over power, this time to an opponent, another major political milestone. Carrie Kahn, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.