PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Hip-hop artist and presidential hopeful Wyclef Jean said Saturday that as leader he would work to change Haiti’s constitution to allow dual citizenship and give many Haitians living abroad the right to vote in their homeland.
The issue is central in Haiti, where hundreds of thousands have emigrated to flee poverty, and the money they send to relatives back home is a vital source of income in the earthquake-ravaged Caribbean nation.
Currently, Haitians who emigrate must renounce their Haitian citizenship if they become citizens of another country, making them unable to vote or run for office in their homeland. Jean himself left Haiti for New York City when he was 9 but never sought U.S. citizenship.
The former Fugees frontman told the Associated Press that his presidency would be a “bridge” between the Haitians abroad and those living in the country.
“The future is dual citizenship,” he said, adding that many countries, including the neighboring Dominican Republic, allow citizens to hold two passports.
Haitians abroad “should have the right to vote in their country,” especially since they send billions in remittances to family members.
“If they are the ones who keep this country alive, they should have some kind of say on what kind of government structure there is,” the 40-year-old singer said.