Rap star to seek Haitian presidency
Singer Wyclef Jean to file candidacy papers for quake-ravaged country's November poll.
Last Modified: 05 Aug 2010 06:28 GMT
Haiti faces massive social problems including corruption, hunger and destroyed infastructure [AFP]

Wyclef Jean, the Grammy award winning Haitian-American hip-hop star, is set to formally announce plans to run for president in Haiti's upcoming election.

Jean, who left Haiti for the US when he was nine years old, will file candidate papers by the end of this week, US media outlets including the Wall Street Journal and New York Times reported on Thursday.

"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 said in an interview with Time.

Many analysts predict Jean, 37, could win the November 28 presidential elections as he is popular among the country's youth, who make up a majority of Haiti's population.

If successful, he would replace Rene Preval, the current president, whose term expires in February.

Preval has faced criticism for his government's response to the devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck the country on January 12, killing more than 230,000 people and destroying most infrastructure in the country.

'He won't steal'

Low turnout and accusations of fraud marred Haiti's last elections in 2009 and the new elections are expected to cost $44m, most of which will likely come from the international community.


  Haiti capital still in ruins

But Linda Joseph, a Haitian from the poor Bas Peu de Choses neighbourhood, told the New York Times that Jean "already has all the money he needs".

"So he won't steal from us like the others," she said, referencing the wide-spread culture of corruption among Haiti's political class.

In 2005, Jean established the Yele Haiti Foundation to provide humanitarian aid, but the charity, which raised about nine million dollars, has been criticised for bad management practises.

Focus on jobs

Haiti's constitution requires presidential candidates to have lived in Haiti for five years preceding the vote.

The singer, who holds a Haitian passport and an American green-card, has said he believes his status as Haitian goodwill ambassador will provide a loophole to that rule, because the role forced him to travel around the world.

The jump into politics is not entirely unexpected from Jean, whose music deals with topic like racism, police brutality and inequality.

In his song "If I Was President" the three-time Grammy award winner sings "I'd get elected on Friday, assassinated on Saturday, and buried on Sunday".

"Instead of spending billions on the war, I can use that money, to feed the poor. I know some so poor, when it rains that's when they shower, when screaming 'fight the power'".

The singer has admitted in interviews that he is not a political expert, but he pledged to surround himself with top-notch policy experts in order to focus on education, job creation and agriculture. 

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