Wyclef’s Jean’s seemingly quixotic quest for President of Haiti took a bad turn last week when Haiti’s Interim Electoral Commission (CEP) rejected his bid. Since the former Fugees’ band member and subsequent solo hip-hop celebrity launched his campaign (outlining reasons in an open August 5th Huffington Post letter), a mountain of controversy swirled about Haiti’s “roving ambassador.” He’s been fending off charges of financial malfeasance at his highly visible non-governmental relief organization Yele’ Haiti while managing speculation over his motives.
Now, political tensions in the earthquake-devastated Caribbean island are boiling over the Haitian electoral commission’s decision. According to the CEP, Jean could not prove that he lived in the country for five consecutive years, a requirement under Haitian law.
Still, Jean’s lawyers argue that he does meet the requirements, especially as Haiti’s “roving ambassador” since 2007 – even though he’s lived in the United States since the age of 9.
Over the weekend, United Nations peacekeepers mobilized in Port-au-Prince in anticipation of unrest related to the announcement. “We are aware that the release of the list of prospective candidates could cause rallies or [a] mass movement,” said Jean-François Vezina, a spokesman for the United Nations police.
Tomorrow our Lawyers are appealing the decision of the CEP. We have met all the requirements set by the laws. And the law must be Respected.
Jean elaborates further on his appeal in a recent interview with the Associated Press, claiming that the CEP decision was based on “politics” and not the rule of law.
“I think he probably felt that the Commission’s decision wasn’t legally sound,” Garry Pierre-Pierre, Editor of The Haitian Times, tells Politic365.com. “He looked at the other candidates and realized they were plagued by similar residency issues, yet they remain on the ballot.”
Pierre-Pierre, host of CUNY-TV’s Independent Times, contends that if Jean’s appeal is successful and he is back on the ballot “he will become the next President of Haiti.”
“Wyclef is very popular among Haitians – they don’t care about the residency issue. His common man approach appeals to them. However, there is a certain class of Haitians attempting to paint him as a messenger of foreign interests. The elite political class views him as an interloper getting in the way.”