A selection of Haiti's leaders

Haiti has had 45 leaders since the country achieved independence from France in 1804.

Twenty-three were overthrown, two were assassinated, one committed suicide and another was executed.

Seven died in office and fewer than a dozen managed to complete a full and uninterrupted term in office, whether as an interim leader or elected president.

Here are a few of the leaders:

Jean-Jacques Dessalines

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Jean-Jacques Dessalines was Haiti’s first president, serving from 1804 to 1806. A former slave who declared himself emperor, he ordered a massacre and implemented reforms that led to his overthrow.

Henri Christophe

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Henri Christophe, the self-proclaimed king and dictatorial monarch, didn’t wait to get toppled. Unpopular and ailing from a stroke, he shot himself after 13 years in office.

Jean-Pierre Boyer

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Jean-Pierre Boyer, the son of a white Frenchman and a former African slave, came to power in 1818. He managed to unify a divided Haiti but excluded blacks from power. He was overthrown in 1843.

Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier

Associated Press

The competition for worst leader has many entrants, but there is a consensus among historians: Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier, who ruled from 1957 to 1971.

Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Associated Press

Jean-Bertrand Aristide was toppled in 1991, returned in 1994 to finish his term, then took office again in 2001 only to be overthrown again three years later.



Feb. 18, 5:03 p.m.: An earlier version of this photo gallery misidentified former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide as Jean-Pierre Aristide.


Rene Preval

Associated Press

Haiti observers agree that Rene Preval, who served from 1996 to 2001 and from 2006 to 2011, tried to rule with fairness and integrity through political upheavals and economic chaos.

Michel Martelly

Associated Press

Michel Martelly was president from 2011 to 2016. When he left office on Feb. 7, there was no one to take over his post.

Jocelerme Privert

Associated Press

Jocelerme Privert, a senator and former leader of Parliament, is Haiti’s current interim president. He has three months to organize fresh elections so a new president can take office May 14.

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