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.”
Jean had been appointed by Preval as Haiti’s ambassador at large and said on Friday night that he would continue to advocate for his countrymen’s interests around the world.
Among those approved to run for the presidency were:
-Jacques Edouard Alexis, a two-time prime minister
-Leslie Voltaire, a U.S.-educated urban planner and former minister
-Yvon Neptune, another former prime minister who served under former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide
-Mirlande Manigat, a well-known opposition leader and former first lady
-Jude Celestin, the former head of the government’s road-building outfit
-Yves Cristallin, who served as social affairs minister
Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, is struggling to recover from the devastating January 12 earthquake that killed up to 300,000 people.
U.N. and Haitian police guarded the provisional electoral council headquarters in Port-au-Prince to prevent any trouble as feverish expectations mounted over which contenders would be on the confirmed list to run.
It was feared that Jean’s exclusion and that of other contenders from the electoral race on legal grounds could stir political tensions and even possible violence.
But Port-au-Prince was calm on Friday night and no disturbances were reported after the electoral council’s decision was announced.
Writing by Jane Sutton, editing by Vicki Allen