August 4, 2010 in Nation/World

Hip-hop artist may seek top job in Haiti

Wyclef Jean’s eligibility for presidency questioned
Jonathan M. Katz Associated Press
 
Tags:Haiti

Jean
(Full-size photo)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Singer Wyclef Jean is about to announce his candidacy for president of earthquake-ravaged Haiti, the former head of the country’s Chamber of Deputies said Tuesday.

Former Deputy Pierre Eric Jean-Jacques told the Associated Press that the hip-hop artist will run as part of his coalition in the Nov. 28 election.

Jean spokeswoman Cindy Tanenbaum declined to confirm the report. She said the singer planned to make an announcement Thursday in Haiti but declined to say what it would be.

Jean-Jacques, who will be seeking to return to the Chamber of Deputies in the election, said he will be a candidate for a new coalition that calls itself Ansanm Nou Fo, which translates as “together we are strong” in Creole.

“Yes, we have an agreement (with Jean). But he’s the one who has to announce it first,” Jean-Jacques told AP, declining to elaborate on their political plans.

Jean is popular in Haiti for his music and for his work through his charity Yele Haiti, which raised millions of dollars after the Jan. 12 earthquake that killed an estimated 300,000 people and knocked down most of the government ministries and many of the homes in the capital.

Rumors have swirled for months that Jean would run for president. The singer has always been careful not to rule out a run for the office and recorded a song “If I Was President.”

The 37-year-old was born outside Port-au-Prince but left as a child and grew up in Brooklyn.

Dozens of candidates are expected to compete for the presidency in the Nov. 28 election, among them Jean’s uncle Raymond Joseph, who is Haiti’s ambassador in Washington. Other likely candidates include former prime ministers, mayors and another popular Haitian musician, Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly.

All must register their candidacies with the country’s electoral council by Saturday.

Questions surround Jean’s qualifications for office. He must prove he has resided in Haiti for five consecutive years, own property in the country and have no other citizenship but Haitian.

Officials have disqualified some candidates on technicalities while allowing others to run.

In 2007, the singer was named an official Haitian ambassador-at-large by President Rene Preval, whom Jean supported in his 2006 re-election bid. Preval has served two nonconsecutive terms and is barred by the constitution from seeking office again.

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