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Preval Sworn In as Haiti's President


On Sunday, Haiti swore in Rene Preval as its first democratically elected president since former president Jean Bertrand Aristide was forced into exile two years ago, following a bloody uprising. Analysts say President Preval is facing a difficult term in office.

Jubilant crowds greeted Mr. Preval as he made his way to the National Palace in downtown Port-au-Prince, shouting "long live Preval, long live Aristide!" It was a historic day for many Haitians, who hope that Mr. Preval will bring change to the impoverished country.

The new president has widespread support among the poor, who see him as a close ally of exiled president Jean Bertrand Aristide.

While foreign dignitaries moved between the parliament and the palace, hundreds of U.N. peacekeeping troops patrolled the capital.

In his inaugural address, Mr. Preval appealed for peace. He said the future of Haiti is in the hands of all Haitians, but they will need the support of the international community.

The inauguration drew international attention, with many countries sending dignitaries. Governor of the U.S. state of Florida and President Bush's brother, Jeb Bush, was in attendance. He said Haiti's future will depend on its ability to establish law and order.

"I hope and believe again under the leadership of the new president there will be greater security, which will make it possible for more prosperity, more jobs created, and more economic prosperity," he said.

Besides establishing stability, analysts say Mr. Preval must begin a process of social and political reconciliation to bridge the enormous gap between the rich and poor. Haiti has a tiny minority of wealthy elite, but eight out of 10 people live on less than a dollar a day.

While mostly peaceful, the inauguration day was not without incident. Shortly before the ceremony began, a riot broke out in the national prison, shattering the fragile peace in the capital. U.N. troops quickly restored order.

The United Nations deployed its peacekeepers in Haiti in 2004 to help stabilize the turbulent country.

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