Wyclef Jean steps toward Haitian presidential race
PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) - Grammy-award winning singer Wyclef Jean said on Thursday that he has taken legal steps toward running for president in quake-devastated Haiti, but has not made a definite decision to run.
Jean, who said he is qualified to run for Haiti's highest office, was in Haiti to work with lawyers and have his fingerprints taken by the judicial police as part of the legal process of preparing to run for president.
"I basically come out to Haiti today because it was important that I do my fingerprints," Jean told Reuters as he left the Port-au-Prince international airport for the United States on Thursday.
"There are a lot of rumors that I am running for president. I have not declared that," said Jean, 37. "If we decide to move forward, I am pretty sure that we have all our paperwork straight."
Haiti, which was ravaged on January 12 by a deadly 7.0-magnitude earthquake, is scheduled to vote on November 28 to elect a new leader to replace President Rene Preval, whose term ends in February.
The deadline for candidates to register is August 7. Jean said he will take his decision with his wife Claudinette and their daughter Angelina.
"As a family, we must decide on what we're going to do because it is a big sacrifice," he said.
Sources close to the singer told Reuters Jean will officially announce his candidacy next week on CNN before flying back to Haiti to enter the race. When asked by Reuters about such plans, Jean did not confirm or deny the preparations.
Many analysts predict Jean -- who is very popular among Haitians, particularly the young -- would easily win the presidential election if his candidacy were approved.
Jean immigrated to the United States at the age of 9, but has maintained his Haitian citizenship, a prerequisite for running. He showed his Haitian passport to Reuters reporters as he was going through Haitian immigration on Thursday.
News of his possible candidacy has created panic among traditional politicians and power holders who have long planned to run. They fear Jean's popularity and financial resources would give him a campaign advantage they could not hope to match.
"I think if Wyclef is allowed to run he will have a straight victory," said political leader and former presidential candidate Himmler Rebu.
A three-time Grammy award-winner, Jean was a founding member of the hip-hop trio The Fugees and won wider fame for his collaboration with Colombian pop star Shakira. He released a song two years ago called "If I Was President."
Jean established the Yele Haiti Foundation in 2005 to provide humanitarian aid to the people of Haiti. He said after the January 12 earthquake that killed up to 300,000 people that Haiti's future rested on education, job creation and investment.
"So I would think with all my allies around the world that have loved my music, that have loved the message and the work we have done with Yele Haiti, they understand I can't just sing right now," he said.
"When I am looking back at my career, I've sung songs all my life and I've watched singers sing songs about certain changes that we want, we say, you know what, we're going to turn them into a reality," Jean said.
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