Wyclef Jean files papers to stand for Haiti president

  • Published

Hip hop star Wyclef Jean has formally registered to stand for president of his native Haiti as it rebuilds after the devastating January earthquake.

Dozens of supporters greeted him as he arrived with his wife and daughter at an electoral council office in the capital, Port-au-Prince.

The deadline to file candidacy papers for the 28 November poll is Saturday.

Mr Jean, who lives in the US, will now have to prove he is eligible to run under Haitian law.

A review board will verify that his candidacy meets constitutional requirements, including having lived in Haiti for five consecutive years leading up to the election and never having held foreign citizenship.

The singer, who grew up in the US, holds a Haitian passport and has US residency. He says his appointment as a roving ambassador for the country in 2007 exempts him from the residency requirement.

The list of official candidates will be published on 17 August.

'Very emotional'

Mr Jean filed papers to run as a candidate for the Viv Ansanm (Live Together) political party.

"I would like to tell [US] President Barack Obama that the United States has Obama and Haiti has Wyclef Jean," he told a rally of supporters in Port-au-Prince.

"It's a moment in time and in history," he told the Associated Press news agency. "It's very emotional."

Earlier this week, he stepped down from the Yele Haiti charitable foundation for Haitian children he set up, which recently came under scrutiny over its finances.

Other declared candidates include former diplomat Garaudy Laguerre and Raymond Joseph, who is Haiti's current ambassador to the US and Mr Jean's uncle.

The sitting President, Rene Preval, is barred by the constitution from seeking a new term.

Image caption,
A review board will decide if Mr Jean's candidacy is constitutional

If Mr Jean runs and wins, he will preside over the spending of billions of dollars in reconstruction aid.

Mr Jean, the frontman of 1990s hip hop group The Fugees, is hugely popular in Haiti, where half of the population is under 21.

He told Time magazine in an interview that his secret weapon in the election campaign would be that Haiti's "enormous youth population doesn't believe in politicians any more".

"If not for the earthquake, I probably would have waited another 10 years before doing this," Mr Jean added.

Mr Jean is Haiti's ambassador-at-large, and has played a prominent role in securing aid since the earthquake, which left 1.5 million people homeless.

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