Legal Clause Thwarts Wyclef Jean’s Candidacy

Liz De La Torre

Despite ample campaigning for president, it looks like hip hop star Wyclef Jean will not be the face that helps restore the “pearl of the Antille,” as he so affectionately calls his homeland, Haiti. After the earthquake that destroyed much of the country, Wyclef Jean spoke out about his desire to help Haiti, by running for president. But while his bid for presidency came with positive reaction from Haiti residents, winning over others proved much harder.

Actor Sean Penn, who has been active with his relief organization, questioned Jean’s motives: “I have to say I’m very suspicious of it, simply because he, as an ambassador at large, has been virtually silent. For those of us in Haiti, he has been a non-presence.” Ex-Fugees band mate, Pras, said he couldn’t see Jean managing all of Haiti’s problems: “The reality is this, we need a real leader. Not just a regular leader, but a transformative leader. Someone that’s gonna be able to galvanize the Haitians down on the field, the Haitian-Americans, the international community. It’s a collective support—to take this country to the 21st century. And I’m just not convinced Wyclef is the one for that.” As if answering claims mismanaging $400,000 in earthquake relief donations wasn’t enough, doubts from colleagues and even death threats put Jean under fire. Yet, he never took himself out of the run. Only after he was challenged by a constitutional condition did he have no choice.

According to the Haitian electoral board, legal conditions keep the star from running for president. As a prerequisite for contention, all candidates must reside in Haiti for at least five years before the election. While Jean was born in Haiti, he currently lives in New Jersey and pays taxes to the United States. So, what does Wyclef Jean have to say about losing this bid for candidacy? The star, who said he would proceed with efforts to improve the education of Haiti’s youth if plans fell through, asserted his commitment: “I’ll never quit. I’ll run in another five years.” As for Haiti, 34 candidates await the arrival of the November 28 election.