Wyclef Jean set to confirm run for Haitian presidency

He may be Haiti's best-known celebrity, but is he ready to be its head of state? That's the question Wyclef Jean must answer tonight, when he's expected to throw his back-to-front baseball cap into the ring by formally announcing his intention to stand in the country's forthcoming presidential elections.

The hip-hop artist, who has been heavily involved in the efforts to rebuild Haiti in the months since an earthquake killed 300,000 people and left 1.6 million homeless, has spent recent days conducting embargoed interviews, and according to sources at US news network CNN will formally fire the starting gun during tonight’s Larry King programme. “If I can’t take five years out to serve my country as President, then everything I’ve been singing about, like equal rights, doesn’t mean anything,” Jean told this week’s Time magazine, adding: “I’m the only man who can stand in the middle and get the diaspora and Haiti’s elite families to cooperate.”

Jean’s brother, Samuel, says he will spend today filling in required documents with the country’s electoral council, which will oversee November’s polling day. “We all believe he meets the constitutional requirements and he can do it,” he told the Associated Press.

Presidential candidates must own property in Haiti, have always held a Haitian passport, and have lived in the country for five consecutive years. Jean fulfils the last of those requirements on a relative technicality: he spent the first nine years of his life there, before emigrating to the US, where he was brought up.

The former Fugees star hasn’t confirmed which of Haiti’s myriad political parties he will be representing. However Eric Jean-Jacques, the former head of the country’s parliament, has claimed that he’ll be part of the recently-formed Ansanm Nou Fo (“Together we are strong”) coalition.

His political leanings remain opaque. But in an interview with The Independent last month, Jean was highly critical of foreign governments and charities which have spent only a fraction of the billions of dollars pledged to Haiti in the aftermath of January’s disaster. “It feels like the NGO show,” he said.

He also expressed a desire to fix the country’s crumbling infrastructure, and use his personal charity, Yele Haiti, to pay unemployed youths to clean the streets, and build villages where earthquake victims who lost their homes will be given houses and small plots of agricultural land.

Dozens of other candidates are expected to stand in the Presidential contest, including Jean’s uncle, Raymond Joseph, who is Haiti’s ambassador to Washington, and another popular musician, Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly. Although Jean’s fame will help him stand out from the field, it’s by no means guaranteed to shoehorn him into the country’s heavily-damaged Presidential palace.

The 37-year-old already boasts strong support among younger voters, who make up a comparatively large proportion of Haiti’s electorate, and also co-owns Telemax, one of the country’s most influential television networks. His moneyed connections in both Haiti and overseas also mean that he is likely to be able to outspend many low-profile rivals.

But the election is a long way away, and his motives are often questioned by elder Haitians, who resent the fact that Jean emigrated from the country, complain that he speaks poor French and Creole, and have frequently accused him of using public interest in the country’s plight to further his own career.

In a country were the governing class has historically been riddled with corruption, questions also remain about Jean’s integrity. His aid organisation Yele, which raised $9 million after January’s disaster, recently found itself at the centre of a financial scandal after it emerged that it failed to file tax returns for four years and had paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars to businesses owned by its directors.

The other great unknown regards the running of November’s election to succeed President Renee Preval, who has finished his two allotted terms. Haiti’s electoral rolls have been largely destroyed, and it seems likely that one of the most popular political parties, former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas will be controversially banned from taking part.

Suggested Topics
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it