Factbox: Haitian hip-hop star jumps into politics

(Reuters) - Hip-hop star Wyclef Jean registered as a candidate on Thursday for Haiti’s November presidential election.

He filed papers at the Caribbean nation’s electoral authority to run as a candidate for the Viv Ansanm political party.

Here are some facts about Wyclef Jean:

-- Jean, 40, was born in Haiti, on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. He left his deeply impoverished Caribbean homeland at the age of 9, and grew up in New York.

The three-time Grammy award-winner is widely admired in Haiti for never having turned his back on his Haitian roots despite his country’s ranking as the poorest state in the Americas.

-- Jean’s music career took off in the mid-1990s as a member of The Fugees, whose biggest hit was a cover version of Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly With His Song.”

As a rapper and producer, he later rose to worldwide fame for his work with Colombian pop star Shakira, most notably on the 2006 mega hit “Hips Don’t Lie.”

-- Little is known about his political leanings. But in a song released two years ago, “If I Was President,” he seemed to take a fatalistic view of public life in a country ravaged by decades of dictatorship, military rule, political upheaval and gang violence.

“If I was president, I’d get elected on Friday, assassinated on Saturday, buried on Sunday. Then go back to work on Monday,” the lyrics say.

-- Jean has long been active in raising money for his homeland through his Yele Haiti Foundation. He has also served as an ambassador-at-large under the outgoing government of President Rene Preval, and has led appeals for international aid since Haiti suffered a devastating January 12 earthquake.

Jean stepped down as head of Yele Haiti on Thursday, before declaring his candidacy.

-- Jean has appeared in several films including “Ghosts of Cite Soleil,” a documentary released in 2007. The film took its name from Haiti’s biggest and most dangerous slum and focused on gang leaders and armed supporters of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who once ruled the teeming ghetto like their personal fiefdom.

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Reporting by Tom Brown; Editing by Pascal Fletcher and Xavier Briand