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Presidential candidate Leslie Manigat waves in a campaign rally in February, 2006. (EDUARDO MUNOZ/REUTERS)
Presidential candidate Leslie Manigat waves in a campaign rally in February, 2006. (EDUARDO MUNOZ/REUTERS)

obituary

Leslie Manigat, president of Haiti who was ousted in 1988 coup, dies at 83 Add to ...

Leslie Manigat, 83, was a prominent figure in the Haitian political establishment whose term as president was cut short by a military coup in 1988.

The former president died at home before dawn on June 27 after a long period of illness, according to Evans Baubrun, deputy secretary of Mr. Manigat’s political party.

He said Mr. Manigat’s condition may have been complicated by a recent bout of chikungunya, a debilitating mosquito-borne virus that has been rapidly spreading in Haiti.

President Michel Martelly said he was saddened by the loss of Mr. Manigat, referring to him as “professor,” as he was widely known in Haiti.

“With this death, the republic has lost one of its worthy sons,” he said.

The death “creates a huge void in the Haitian intellectual community and in the world,” said Haitian Prime Minister Prime Laurent Lamothe.

A statement issued by his office said Mr. Manigat “contributed to the education of several generations of Haitians and has helped to enhance our national pride.”

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 François Duvalier.

After his release, he went into exile in France, then the United States and Venezuela, before returning to Haiti after the fall of former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier in 1986.

Mr. Manigat, a former professor of history and political science, won the presidency in January, 1988, amid the tumult that followed the fall of “Baby Doc” Duvalier two years earlier.

The election, which was boycotted by the main opposition parties, was widely seen as illegitimate.

A round of balloting three months earlier 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, Mr. Manigat was ousted in a coup led by Lieutenant-General Henri Namphy. Upon fleeing to the neighbouring Dominican Republic, Mr. Manigat 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 did eventually return to Haiti and politics. He ran for president in 2006 but came in second to René Préval.

In 2010, his wife, Mirlande Manigat, ran and was defeated by Mr. Martelly.

Associated Press with files from Reuters

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