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From hip hop star to president, Wyclef fights for top job in quake-crisis Haiti

Singer Wyclef Jean is to run for president of earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

Jean's spokeswoman Cindy Tanenbaum said the hip hop artist, and former member of The Fugees, planned an announcement tomorrow and that he was preparing a political communications team.

His brother Samuel said the singer would announce his intentions in a televised interview from Haiti.

"We all believe he meets the constitutional requirements and he can do it," Samuel Jean said from his consulting office in Los Angeles.

Pierre Eric Jean-Jacques, the ex-head of the country's Chamber of Deputies, said last night that Jean would run as part of his coalition in the November 28 election.

Mr Jean-Jacques, who will be seeking to return to the Chamber of Deputies in the election, said he would be a candidate for a new coalition that calls itself Ansanm Nou Fo, which translates as 'together we are strong' in Creole.

Jean is popular in Haiti for his music and for his work through his charity Yele Haiti, which raised millions after the January 12 earthquake that killed an estimated 300,000 people.

Dozens of candidates are expected to compete for the presidency in the November election, among them Jean's uncle Raymond Joseph, who is Haiti's ambassador in Washington.

Other likely candidates include former prime ministers, mayors and another popular Haitian musician, Michel 'Sweet Micky' Martelly.

All must register their candidacies with the country's electoral council by Saturday.



Citizenship

Questions surround Jean's qualifications for office. He must prove he has lived in Haiti for five consecutive years, owned property in the country and had no other citizenship but Haitian.

In 2007 the singer was named an official Haitian ambassador-at-large by President Rene Preval, whom Jean supported in his 2006 re-election bid. Mr Preval has served two non-consecutive terms and is barred by the constitution from seeking office again.

Reaction to his possible candidacy has been divided. The musician has a strikingly different profile than the generals, technocrats and priests who have led it before, speaking little French and Haitian Creole with a diaspora accent.

The office has never been an easy job -- presidents have only rarely completed a constitutional five-year term.

Most in history have been overthrown, assassinated, declared themselves "president for life" -- or some combination of the three.

hnews@herald.ie


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