Leslie Manigat: Post-Duvalier president of Haiti whose period in office was cut short after a few months by a military coup


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The Independent Online

Leslie Manigat was a prominent figure in the Haitian political establishment whose term as president was cut short by a military coup. A former professor of history and political science, he was elected president in 1988 amid the tumult that followed the fall two years earlier of the former dictator, Jean-Claude Duvalier.

The election, which was boycotted by the main opposition parties, was widely seen as illegitimate. A round of balloting was called off after gunmen shot into lines of voters at polling stations and other assailants hacked people to death. Witnesses said soldiers took part in the shooting and the opposition said the military orchestrated the bloodshed to ruin the first free election in three decades.

Within six months, Manigat was removed in a coup led by Lt Gen Henri Namphy. Fleeing to the neighbouring Dominican Republic, he appeared finished with politics. "I'm not going to fall into the classic trap of deposed political men who see the return to power from one moment to the other and pass all their time waiting for that imminent return," he told reporters at the time. "I'm not only a politician, but a political scientist. I can avoid that vision, that force of mistaken politics and personal frustration."

He eventually returned to Haiti, running for president in 2006, but he came second to Rene Preval. In 2010, his second wife, Mirlande, ran and was defeated by Michel Martelly. Manigat died after a long illness which may have been complicated by a bout of chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has been spreading in Haiti since the first locally transmitted cases emerged this year.

Leslie François Saint Roc Manigat, politician: born Port-au-Prince 16 August 1930; twice married; died Port-au-Prince 27 June 2014.