Haiti - Government

Under Article 197 of the 1964 constitution, François Duvalier was appointed president for life, with the stipulation that this article be approved in a nationwide plebiscite. On 14 June 1964, the voters were declared to have "almost unanimously" given their consent. He was granted power to dissolve the Legislative Assembly and the cabinet and to govern by decree in case of grave conflict. A constitutional amendment in January 1971 allowed the president to choose his successor. Jean-Claude Duvalier became president for life in April 1971 and was chief of state and head of government until early 1986.

The constitution adopted in March 1987 established a president elected to a five-year term as head of state and restricted to no more than two nonconsecutive terms in office. The head of government was to be the prime minister, appointed by the president from the party holding the majority in both houses of the legislature, which is made up of a 27-member Senate and a Chamber of Deputies with 83 members. Supporters of the Duvaliers were barred from holding political office for 10 years. Senators are elected for six years and deputies for four.

Since its passage, the constitution was suspended in June 1988 and reinstated in March 1989. The leaders of the coup of October 1991 claimed to be observing the constitution and Marc Bazin was named head of a caretaker government. But to all observers, nothing approaching a political system was present in Haiti until the restoration of the democratically elected Aristide government in late 1994. Because of an agreement with the United States, Aristide was unable to seek a second term and endorsed René Préval to succeed him in office. Préval was elected on 17 December 1995 as the country's second democratically elected president. In 2000, Aristide was elected president again, marking the first time that a democratically elected president completed his term without interruption and handed power over to another democratically elected leader.

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