Haiti: Wyclef Jean for President?

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World acclaimed entertainer Wyclef Jean’s family Tuesday confirmed that the former Fugees member will run in the Haitian presidential elections in November. The artist, who resides in the United States, however, needs to clear an important constitutional obstacle.

Wyclef for President? The likelihood that the ex-Fugees star will run for president in Haiti’s November elections just got stronger. In a statement released Monday, the musician’s family corroborated reports that the hip-hop star might present himself for the elections. Sources confirm that Jean, who holds a Haitian passport, has completed most administrative requirements and is a “few formalities away” from declaring his candidacy.

Presidential hopefuls have till the 7th of August to declare their intentions after having fulfilled the required constitutional criteria for the post. While Wyclef is Haitian and not a convicted felon, he must provide proof of residence in Haiti for at least 5 consecutive years before the elections. For now it is unclear whether the first nine years of his life qualify him for the post as he has spent most of his adult life in the United States.

An involved citizen

The singer, who travels regularly to his country of birth, to which he remains strongly attached, has funded numerous projects on the island through his foundation, Yéle, created in 2005 and has been very active in relief efforts after the earthquake on January 12th which left some 300,000 dead. At that time, Jean indicated that he wished to do more for his people.

Upon receiving news of Jean’s possible candidacy, Haitians are divided. Some consider that with his international recognition, he would be able to find the means and the right team to encourage the Haitian population back on its feet. His presidency could, in their opinion, put an end to the corruption which has characterized Haitian politics in recent years. But critics of Wyclef Jean question his understanding of the peculiarities of Haitian culture and society, as well as his political credentials.

In a press release obtained from the Yéle foundation, Jean states that his “commitment to Haiti and to its youth is immense.” He assures that he will remain their “biggest support, as part of the government or not.”

Family politics

Should Wyclef Jean decide to run, he will face a member of his own family. Haiti’s ambassador to the United States, Raymond Joseph, has declared to the Christian Science Monitor his intention to contest the presidential elections. Joseph is Jean’s uncle and a well-known political activist in Haiti. He maintains that the elections would not cause a rift between his nephew and him. For him, their campaigns would not be running against each other but “parallel.”

Wyclef’s venture into politics is not unusual given that in the past non-politicians have ventured into the field. Hollywood stars like Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger have made a success of politics and in Liberia, football great George Weah once made a run for President. Come August 7th, it would be no surprise if Wyclef Jean decides to run for President.

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