As of 1999, Haiti was divided into nine departments and subdivided into arrondissements and communes. Each department is headed by a prefect appointed by the central government. Under the constitution, a commune is headed by an elected mayor, whose powers are strictly circumscribed. Local government is limited and all taxes collected by the communes are paid directly into the national treasury. The first open municipal elections in 26 years took place in 1983. Local mayoral and council elections were held in December 1995. In January 1999 President René Préval began appointing mayors and other local officials because political violence and instability had resulted in the delay of local elections. Since taking office, President Aristide has replaced many of the mayors elected by Préval. By late 2002, most government officials and authorities were loyal to Aristide and his Fanmi Lavalas party. Opposition leaders were prevented from having power in local governments.