Hip-hopper Wyclef Jean rejected as Haiti candidate

Sun Aug 22, 2010 12:50pm EDT
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By Joseph Guyler Delva

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) - Haiti's provisional electoral council has ruled that hip-hop star Wyclef Jean did not meet a residency requirement to run as a presidential candidate in the nation's November 28 election.

Singer-songwriter Jean, 40, an international celebrity who is popular in his impoverished and earthquake-ravaged homeland, was rejected from the list of approved candidates read aloud by the council on Friday night.

Jean was among 34 presidential candidates vying for a spot in the election to choose a successor to President Rene Preval, who cannot run again after two terms. The council approved 19 candidates and rejected 15.

Jean said the council had ruled he did not meet the requirement that presidential candidates maintain five consecutive years of residency in Haiti prior to running.

He issued a statement saying he respectfully disagreed with the council's decision but accepted it and urged his supporters to do likewise.

"We must all honor the memories of those we've lost -- whether in the earthquake, or at any time -- by responding peacefully and responsibly to this disappointment," Jean said.

"I want to assure my countrymen that I will continue to work for Haiti's renewal; though the board has determined that I am not a resident of Haiti, home is where the heart is -- and my heart has and will always be in Haiti."

Jean, who left his impoverished homeland with his family to live in New York at the age of 9 and launched his music career in the United States, had presented arguments his lawyers said showed a "constant presence."   Continued...

<p>Haitian singer Wyclef Jean, a candidate for the next presidential election in Haiti, attends a news conference before his concert at the Antilliaanse Feesten music festival in Hoogstraten, August 13, 2010. REUTERS/Sebastien Pirlet</p>