Singer Wyclef Jean has officially announced his bid to be president of Haiti to a roaring crowd of supporters.
Jean — a naturalized US citizen — jetted into Haiti on a private plane Thursday and officially launched a bid for president — just hours after stepping down from his embattled Haitian charity, Yele Haiti!. The declaration ends weeks of speculation about whether or not the Grammy-winning former Fugee would run for the highest office in his homeland.
Jean, who gained fame in the 1990s as the frontman for the landmark hip-hop group The Fugees before embarking on a solo career, enters a highly competitive and crowded race for a difficult and dangerous job. He will face several candidates who lack his international fame but have more political clout. In addition, only one person has completed a democratically elected five-year term in the history of the impoverished island nation — current President Rene Preval.
Wyclef submitted his candidacy papers 10 minutes before the provisional electoral office closed on Thursday. On Friday Jean “will make a statement to the nation, which is hungry for his words,” according to an official statement in Port-au-Prince.
In a statement to supporters Friday, ‘Clef described his return to the Caribbean nation from Brooklyn, New York, where his family moved when he was nine, as answering the call of history and comparable to the Biblical story of Moses. A story Jean, who is either 37 or 40 (depending on who’s telling the story), knows well as the son of a preacher.
“America has Barack Obama and Haiti has Wyclef Jean,” he shouted.
Many in the crowd wore T-shirts distributed by supporters.
Whoever wins the Nov. 28 general election will inherit a devastated capital. Nearly 2 million people have been left homeless by an earthquake that killed an estimated 300,000 people when it rocked Port-au-Prince on Jan. 12. Countless groups are fighting over billions of dollars in international reconstruction funds pledged in the wake of the natural disaster.