Wyclef Jean, former Fugees frontman, runs for president of Haiti

wyclef jean performing

Former Fugees frontman Wyclef Jean cited the Haitian earthquake as his motivation to run for president of Haiti. b_d_solis/Flickr photo.

Wyclef Jean has announced he is running for president of Haiti. Jean, the Grammy-winning former frontman of the Fugees, said he feels it is his calling to lead his native land out of the despair caused by the earthquake in Haiti last January. Jean has added an exciting buzz to Haiti’s election, considered one of the most important in the country’s history. Skeptics question Jean’s lack of political experience. Whether he will qualify to run is also in question, because he left Haiti at age  9 and grew up in New York and New Jersey.

Wyclef Jean’s presidential aspirations

Wyclef Jean’s presidential aspirations were revealed on a Miami radio station Thursday morning. The Miami Herald reports that Jean will step down as the founder and chairman of the Yéle Haiti Foundation to prepare for his candidacy. Jean’s Yélé Haiti Foundation has raised $9.1 million for Haiti earthquake relief, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. A longtime advocate for Haiti, Jean was among the first responders after the 7.0-magnitude earthquake Jan. 12 devastated Port au Prince, the nation’s capital.

Haiti earthquake compels Jean to run

Wyclef Jean described his candidacy for Haitian president as a calling. In an interview with the New York Times he said:

“I’m not running for president so much as I’m being drafted. The youth, in their mind, if I don’t come and put a perspective to things, they feel there’s no future for the country, and I have to agree with them.”

The Times said Jean was planning to announce his Haitian presidential bid on “Larry King Live” after flying to Haiti on Thursday to register with the elections board. Candidates for the Haitian presidency must be citizens with five or more years of residency in Haiti. Even though he left the country as a child, Jean said he met both requirements. Born in Croix des Bouquets, Haiti, he holds a Haitian passport.

Jean compares himself to Reagan, Havel

In an interview with Time magazine, NPR reports that Jean cited Ronald Reagan and Vaclav Havel as precedents for the artist-to-head-of-state transition. But unlike Jean, both Reagan and Havel had decades of political leadership experience before getting elected. The most successful musician in politics may be former Midnight Oil frontman Peter Garrett, who serves as Australia’s environment minister. Blur drummer Dave Rowntree ran for a seat for the British parliament this year but was trounced along with the rest of the Labour Party.

Jean’s Haiti is in dire straits

Wyclef Jean wants to enter a presidential race, slated for Nov. 28, that the Miami Herald said could arguably be Haiti’s most important vote in two decades. The winner will face the challenge of leading reconstruction efforts in the wake of the massive earthquake that claimed an estimated 300,000 lives. More than six months later, 1.6 million people still live in makeshift camps throughout the capital and in cities to the south.

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