Former Haitian president Leslie Manigat dead at 83

by Reuters
Friday, 27 June 2014 16:13 GMT

(Adds detail on Manigat's reputation, election results and return from exile)

By Amelie Baron

PORT-AU-PRINCE, June 27 (Reuters) - Former Haitian president Leslie François Manigat, who was ousted in a 1988 military coup after serving only a few months, died on Friday after a long battle with cancer. He was 83.

Manigat helped lead political efforts to restore democracy to Haiti in the 1980s at the end of nearly three decades of dictatorship by François "Papa Doc" Duvalier and his son Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier.

Manigat, an academic turned politician recognized for his intellect and personal integrity, led the center-left Assembly of Progressive National Democrats party (RNDP), which he founded in the late 1970s. He was a candidate in the elections in November 1987, which were aborted after security forces opened fire on voters.

After a new round of elections, he served as president from February to June in 1988 before being ousted in a military coup led by General Henri Namphy.

Manigat ran for president again in 2006 but was a distant runner-up to René Préval. Manigat demanded a run-off despite winning less than 13 percent of the vote, compared to 50 percent for Preval.

His wife, Mirlande Manigat, was the RNDP candidate in Haiti's last election in 2010-11, losing to Michel Martelly in a run-off after she won the most amount of votes in the first round.

Martelly issued a statement expressing his condolences and sympathy to the Manigat family after hearing the "sad news."

Born on Aug. 16, 1930 in Port-au-Prince, Leslie Manigat began his career at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the 1950s. In 1963 he was imprisoned for two months under the rule of Francois Duvalier. After his release, he went into exile in France, then the United States and Venezuela, before returning to Haiti after the fall of Jean-Claude Duvalier in 1986. (Writing by David Adams; Editing by Bill Trott)

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