Ex-Fugee mulls presidency

2010-07-27 07:28

Singer Wyclef Jean is considering a run for president of Haiti but has not decided whether to seek a five-year term as leader of the quake-ravaged nation, the musician’s family said yesterday.

There have been rumours for some time the Haitian-born entertainer might enter the 2010 presidential contest, ever since his 2007 appointment as ambassador-at-large for the Caribbean nation by President Rene Preval, who cannot seek re-election.

In a statement e-mailed to reporters, the family said: “Wyclef’s commitment to his homeland and its youth is boundless, and he will remain its greatest supporter regardless of whether he is part of the government moving forward. If and when a decision is made, media will be alerted immediately.”

The letter was signed “The Jean family”. A spokesperson for the musician confirmed the message’s authenticity.

Jean (37) was born on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince but left the hemisphere’s poorest country as a child and grew up in New York City’s borough of Brooklyn.

He said in a recent interview he intended to be involved in the November 28 election, but not necessarily as a candidate.

He said: “Do I have political intentions? At this time no. But what I do have is a movement – it’s called Face a Face (Face to Face). The youth population, we are going to encourage them to vote.”

The singer has been active in recent years in raising money through his Yele Haiti Foundation. The organisation was widely criticized for alleged financial irregularities after the January 12 quake, when scrutiny revealed it had paid Jean to perform at fundraising events and bought advertising air time from a television station he co-owns.

The organisation hired a new accounting firm after the allegations surfaced.

Jean, who said he voted for Preval in 2006, would not have an easy road as a candidate. Haitian elections are contentious and often violent.

Dozens of candidates are expected to declare themselves by the August 7 deadline. Preval’s opponents have threatened to block the November 28 vote if he does not replace the presidentially approved electoral council, which he has refused to do.

To enter the race, Jean would have to prove he has resided in Haiti for five consecutive years, own property in the country and have never been a citizen of any country other than Haiti.

Whoever wins will face the gargantuan task of rebuilding a country devastated by the January 12 earthquake. Haiti has not had a functioning economy in decades and its presidents have only rarely completed a constitutional five-year term – more typically being overthrown, getting assassinated, declaring themselves “president-for-life” or some combination of the three.

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