[QODLink]
Americas
Hip-hop star vies for Haiti top job
Wyclef Jean registers as candidate for November presidential election.
Last Modified: 06 Aug 2010 06:14 GMT
Jean jetted into Haiti on a private plane as he officially launched his bid for president [AFP]

Haiti-born hip-hop star Wyclef Jean has registered as a candidate for the country's presidential election scheduled for November, a party official has said.

"Wyclef is registering as candidate for president for my party," Daniel Jean Jacques, head of the country's Viv Ansanm political party, told the Reuters news agency.

Ansanm spoke as Jean, 40, flew into the earthquake-ravaged nation with family members in a private jet on Thursday to file his candidacy with Haiti's electoral authority.

The three-time Grammy award-winner enters a presidential race against a number of other established politicians, including a former prime minister.

"It's a moment in time and in history," Jean told The Associated Press as he went to hand in his candidacy papers at the election office in the capital, Port-au-Prince. "It's very emotional."

"The United States has Barack Obama and Haiti has Wyclef Jean," he shouted to cheering supporters, many wearing the free white T-shirts distributed by his backers with the campaign slogan "Face to Face".

The winner of the November 28 election will preside over the billions of dollars in international aid being channelled to Haiti to rebuild after the January 12 earthquake.

High profile

Jean has never held elected office but is widely admired in Haiti and credited with never having forgotten his Haitian roots.

The former Fugees star, best known for his work with Colombian pop star Shakira and their 2006 mega-hit "Hips Don't Lie", was born in Haiti but grew up in New York and later New Jersey.

"Regardless of what path I take next, one thing is certain: My focus on helping Haiti turn a new corner will only grow stronger"

Wyclef Jean, Haiti-born hiphop star

Jean has played a prominent role since the earthquake in raising funds for Haiti through his charity, the Yele Foundation, but stepped down as its leader earlier on Thursday following allegations of financial improprieties.

"I am not stepping down in my commitment to Haiti," Jean said in a statement.

"On the contrary, regardless of what path I take next, one thing is certain: My focus on helping Haiti turn a new corner will only grow stronger."

The January 12 quake killed an estimated 300,000 people, destroyed thousands of buildings, including most government ministries, and left some 1.5 million homeless survivors still living under tarpaulins and in makeshift tent cities.

Among the most formidable rivals Jean could face if his candidacy is approved is Jacques-Edouard Alexis, Haiti's ousted ex-prime minister, who secured the backing of outgoing leader Rene Preval's powerful Unity party this week.

Preval, who is legally barred from seeking re-election, has faced widespread criticism for failing to aid victims of the quake and to launch a credible start to the huge task of rebuilding the country.

Though Jean has not lived in Haiti within the past five years, he is popular among young people and will probably attract a lot of interest, Kim Ives, a journalist for the newspaper Haiti Liberte, told Al Jazeera.

That makes the eight-member Provisional Electoral Council, which will vet his candidacy, more likely to approve him, Ives said.

But Jean still faces serious obstacles with the general population, he said, including the fiscal irregularities in his charity and his support for the 2004 coup d'etat that ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

"The vast majority, the masses in Haiti, are going to have real doubts about him and some of his affiliations," Ives said.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
More than 400 gaming dens operate on native lands, but critics say social ills and inequality stack the deck.
The Palestinian president is expected to address the UN with a new proposal for the creation of a Palestinian state.
Nearly 1,200 aboriginal females have been killed or disappeared over 30 years with little justice served, critics say.
Ethnic violence has wracked China's restive Xinjiang region, leading to a tight government clampdown.
Malay artists revitalise the art of puppeteering by fusing tradition with modern characters such as Darth Vader.