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Preval seeks "common vision" to unite Haiti

Written by: Staff

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, May 10 (Reuters) President-elect Rene Preval has said he hoped to work with Haitians from across the political spectrum to build ''a common vision'' for the long-term development of his impoverished Caribbean nation.

''My goal is to unite all Haitians. We cannot succeed if we continue to fight each other,'' Preval, who takes office on Sunday, told reporters.

The 63-year-old agronomist, who was president from 1996-2001, has been meeting with rival Haitian politicians, civic leaders and private sector representatives since he was declared the winner of the country's chaotic presidential election in February.

''Through permanent dialogue and consultations we need to build a common vision of Haiti and it's development efforts for the next 25 years,'' said Preval.

Preval is a one-time ally of ousted former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and, like him, seen as a champion of the poor. He was due to take office on April 29 but his inauguration was rescheduled for Sunday to accommodate a second-round of legislative elections held last month.

The law requires that Haiti have a parliament in place to administer the oath of office.

Preval spoke with a select group of reporters at his new official residence in Port-au-Prince. The ramshackle capital was ravaged by kidnappings and crime before his election but has seen relative calm since then.

Haiti's newly elected Senate met yesterday for the first time since the armed revolt that ousted Aristide in February 2004. Haiti has been ruled since by a transitional administration with the support of U.N. peacekeepers.

''We are going to work hard to address the issues facing the population in order to deserve their confidence,'' interim Senate President Laurent Fequiere Mathieu said.

Reuters PDS VP0615

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