Haiti Ruling Ends Wyclef Jean’s Run for President

Singer Wyclef Jean expressed disappointment that election officials disqualified his candidacy for Haiti’s presidency, but called on his followers to act “peacefully and responsibly,” according to an AP report. Haiti’s electoral commission did not say why it had disqualified Jean, but the singer had faced a challenge to his candidacy in the Nov. 28 elections because he has not lived in Haiti for the past five years as required. [Also see Wyclef not on Haiti candidates list: electoral source.] The electoral commission also rejected the candidacy of Jean’s uncle, Raymond Joseph, who is Haiti’s ambassador to the United States. The article provides the results of the ruling and a list of the candidates that are allowed to run. Here are excerpts with a link to the full article below:

The commission approved 19 candidates and rejected 15, spokesman Richardson Dumel told journalists. While rejecting Jean, the board approved two leading contenders: former Prime Minister Jacques-Edouard Alexis and Yvon Neptune, who was the last prime minister under ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and has been active in helping to coordinate reconstruction efforts. Also allowed to run are: Jude Celestin, head of the government’s primary construction firm and the candidate supported by President Rene Preval; and Michel Martelly, a well-known Haitian singer known as “Sweet Mickey.” The Constitution bars Preval from running for re-election.

Jean had apparently been aware which way the decision would go. The 40-year-old entertainer had been in a hotel near the electoral commission office but left abruptly without speaking to journalists about an hour before the announcement. He issued his statement later. Dozens of police and U.N. peacekeepers in riot gear were stationed outside the office, but there were no signs of protests or unrest. Despite his final rejection, Jean attracted global attention to a race in which almost no one outside Haiti could even name any of the candidates.

[. . .] Jean, who gained famed as a member of the Fugees before building a solo career, had no political organization, not much of a following beyond his fans of his music and only a vague platform, casting himself as an advocate of Haiti’s struggling youth and saying he would ask reconstruction donors to help the country’s dysfunctional education system. [. . .] Some Haitians questioned the seriousness of the aspiring candidate, who left the desperately poor Caribbean nation as a boy. “I don’t think he’s a politician at all,” said Etienne St. Cyr, a pastor who helps at a camp for homeless earthquake survivors at the Petionville Country Club. “Maybe he’s not what we need right now.” St. Cyr said Jean failed to win over the people camped in squalid tents on the slope of a golf course, noting they already have allegiances to established political parties and the singer had not visited the camp.

[. . .] The winner of the November vote will take charge of recovery from the Jan. 12 earthquake, coordinating billions of aid dollars in a country with a history of political turmoil and corruption. The quake killed an estimated 300,000 people and left the capital, Port-au-Prince, in ruins.

The devastation, coupled with frustration over a weak government response, created an opening for a messianic outsider like Jean, said Robert Fatton Jr., a Haiti expert at the University of Virginia. “The very fact that he is taken seriously when … he has no preparation to be president, is an indication that the whole country, in particular the youth, looks at the typical Haitian population as a bankrupt kind of species,” Fatton said.

[Many thanks to Janet Mathes for bringing this item to our attention.]

For full article, see http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/cb_haiti_elections_jean

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