Singer Wyclef Jean Confirms He's Running for President of Haiti

Celebrity News Aug. 4, 2010 AT 4:50PM
Singer Wyclef Jean Confirms He's Running for President of Haiti Credit: Steve Granitz/WireImage.com

Wyclef Jean is going to run for President -- of Haiti.

Following weeks of speculation, the Haitian-American, Grammy-winning musician confirmed to Time on Wednesday that he will announce his candidacy for the island nation's Nov. 28 election. According to Rolling Stone, he plans to make the official announcement on Thursday's Larry King Live.

"I knew I'd have to take the next step," Jean, 37, tells Time. "If not for the earthquake, I probably would have waited another 10 years before doing this."

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The impoverished country was utterly devastated by the January 12 earthquake, which had a magnitude of 7.0 and reportedly killed over 200,000 people. The former Fugees bandmember's Yéle Haiti charity pitched in to help, although it was momentarily rocked by an accounting scandal. (Jean has denied any wrongdoing.)

Born in Haiti, Jean left the country with his family at age 9 (they settled in Newark, NJ). In 2007, the friend to fellow celeb humanitarians Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt was named ambassador at large by current Haitian President Rene Preval.

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

The star is part of Haiti's reformist party, Ensemble Nous Faut (We Must Do It Together), and admits to Time that, "it's a hard thing for people to take artists seriously."

Still, he argues, "I'm the only man who can stand in the middle and get the diaspora and Haiti's elite families to cooperate that same way."

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"A lot of Haitians are excited about this," Marvel Dandin, a Port-au-Prince radio broadcaster, told Time. "Given the awful situation in Haiti right now, most people don't care if the President speaks fluent Creole."

One rival for the Presidential bid: Raymond Joseph, Jean's uncle and Haiti's U.S. ambassador, who also recently announced a presidential bid.

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