Wyclef Jean to seek Haitian presidency: report

Wed Aug 4, 2010 2:52am EDT
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Haitian-American music star Wyclef Jean will announce his bid for president of earthquake-ravaged Haiti this week, Time magazine reported on Tuesday.

Haiti, which was hit 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.

"If I can't take five years out to serve my country as President, then everything I've been singing about, like equal rights, doesn't mean anything," Jean said in an interview with Time.

There has been widespread speculation that Jean would seek the office. Last week in Haiti he said he was taking the necessary legal steps toward running for president, including having his fingerprints taken by the judicial police. However, he said on Thursday in Port-au-Prince that he had not made a definite decision.

Many analysts predict Jean -- who at 37 is very popular among Haitians, particularly the young -- would easily win the presidential election.

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 which killed up to 300,000 people that Haiti's future rested on education, job creation and investment.

"If not for the earthquake, I probably would have waited another 10 years before doing this," Jean told Time. "The quake drove home to me that Haiti can't wait another 10 years for us to bring it into the 21st century."

Jean emigrated to the United States aged 9, but has maintained his Haitian citizenship, a requirement for running for the presidency.

(Editing by David Stamp; London World Desk)