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New Jersey’s Wyclef Jean won’t get to be Haiti’s president

jeanWYCLEF080410_optBY BOB HOLT
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

Singer Wyclef Jean's high-profile bid for Haiti's presidency ended after election officials on the earthquake-ravaged Caribbean nation disqualified his candidacy.

The Haitian-American hip hop star expressed disappointment at the late Friday ruling, but called on his followers to act "peacefully and responsibly."

"Though I disagree with the ruling, I respectfully accept the committee's final decision, and I urge my supporters to do the same," the former Fugees frontman said in a statement.

The New York Post reports the Haitian-born singer's candidacy was turned down because he did not meet the residency requirement of having lived in Haiti for five years before the Nov. 28 election. Jean emigrated to the United States at age 7 and has lived most of his adult life in New York and New Jersey. He attended Vailsburg High School in Newark and is a resident of Saddle River.

According to NJ.com, Jean had contended that since he was appointed roving ambassador to Haiti by outgoing President Rene Preval in 2007, he was qualified to run for president.

The electoral commission also rejected the candidacy of Jean's uncle, Raymond Joseph, who is Haiti's ambassador to the United States.

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."

Jean had apparently been aware which way the decision would go. A report in the Daily Record said 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.

Dozens of police and U.N. peacekeepers in riot gear were stationed outside the office, but there were no signs of protests or unrest. Earlier this week, Jean said he had received death threats from somebody who called and told him to get out of Haiti.

Jean also faced persistent criticism over alleged financial mismanagement at the charity he founded, Yele Haiti. He stepped down from the charity at the beginning of his campaign. Yet he has generated global attention to a race in which almost no one outside Haiti could even name any of the candidates.

Abclocal.go.com reports that Mark Jones, a professor of political science at Rice University in Houston said, "If he hadn't been involved, today, no one would be talking about candidates in the Haitian presidential election."

Jean wrote on his blog on wyclefjean.wordpress.com earlier: It is with a heavy heart that I tell you today that the board of elections in Haiti has disqualified me from my run for the presidency of the country. We must all honor the memories of those we've lost-whether in the earthquake, or at anytime-by responding peacefully and responsibly to this disappointment.

I want to assure my countrymen that I will continue to work for Haiti's renewal; though the board has determined that I am not a resident of Haiti, home is where the heart is-and my heart has and will always be in Haiti. Do not think that my role in the future of Haiti is over; it's just a different role than I had anticipated it to be.

Rest assured, this isn't the end of my efforts to help improve my beloved country but only marks a new beginning.

 

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