PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Haiti’s electoral council on Friday ruled that hip-hop artist Wyclef Jean cannot run for president, ending his outsider’s bid to lead the reconstruction of the earthquake-ravaged Caribbean nation.
Council spokesman Richard Dumel said election officials have accepted 19 candidacies and rejected 15 others. The Haitian-born singer’s candidacy was turned down because he did not meet the residency requirement of having lived in Haiti for five years before the Nov. 28 election.
Jean, whose parents brought him to the United States as a child, has lived off and on in Haiti in recent years. In 2007 he was named roving ambassador to Haiti by President Rene Preval, an appointment he had argued qualified him to run for president of the country.
The 40-year-old former Fugees frontman was ensconced in a hotel not far from where the electoral council was deliberating. About an hour before the candidate list was announced, Jean and his entourage left the hotel without speaking to the press.
It was unclear what, if any, impact the news would have on the people of this earthquake-torn nation. Dozens of police and United Nations peacekeepers in riot gear were stationed outside the council office, but as journalists streamed out of the building following the announcement, there were no signs of protests or unrest.
One thing is already certain: The singer brought sizzle to the election, attracting fresh attention to a country still devastated by the Jan. 12 earthquake.
“His candidacy certainly did shake things up,” said Laurent Dubois, a Haiti historian and professor at Duke University. “But it’s still a very important election whether Wyclef is in it or not.”