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
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn