UN Calls For Calm In Haiti After Jean Candidacy Rejected

By Dialogo
August 24, 2010


UN peacekeepers in Haiti called for calm on August 21, after electoral officials rejected international hip-hop star Wyclef Jean’s presidential candidacy.

Jean, who has a strong following among Haiti’s youth, was the best known of the 15 candidates disqualified from running.

The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) called “on political parties and candidates participating in presidential elections to respect the laws prescribed in the Elections Act.”

Haiti’s November 28 election is still uncertain in the aftermath of a powerful January 12 earthquake that killed at least 250,000 people and left 1.5 million homeless.

The peacekeepers also asked the parties to urge their members to behave with “the greatest serenity and respect for voters” during the electoral process.

Jean issued a statement late Friday reaffirming his commitment to the rule of law after council spokesman Richard Dumel announced that his candidacy was rejected.

The council did not formally explain its decision, but there have been concerns Jean might not meet residency requirements. Jean also faces questions about US back taxes.

“Though I disagree with the ruling, I respectfully accept the committee’s final decision, and I urge my supporters to do the same,” Jean said.

Jean said he had been inspired to run for president because he believed Haiti become a great country with the right leadership.

“But, ultimately, we must respect the rule of law in order for our island to become the great nation we all aspire for it to be,” he said.

However in a phone interview broadcast on CNN on August 21, Jean said that he was surprised by the ruling.

“This has come to our party and to our group as a total shock,” he told CNN.

Fears of angry reaction from Jean’s young supporters in Haiti appeared overblown, as the streets of the country’s capital were calm on August 21.

Some Haitian politicians were quick to criticize the music star’s last-minute bid to enter the race.

Jean “was a threat to the candidate endorsed by the party in power, but more broadly, a threat to the entire political class because his candidacy had attracted a lot of attention,” former legislator Emmanuel Wesner told AFP.

Jean was among 34 presidential candidates whose bids were challenged. In the end, electoral officials rejected bids from all of the Haitians living abroad who wanted to run for president, including Raymond Joseph, Haiti’s ambassador to the United States who is also Wyclef Jean’s uncle.

In an open letter made public before the ruling, Jean said that whatever his own political fate, the world needed to do more to help Haiti, whose already serious woes were multiplied by the catastrophic earthquake.

In a report on August 17, The New York Times spotlighted a history of poor financial management at Jean’s Yele Haiti charity, including a 250,000-dollar payment made to a television station that the singer and a cousin had recently acquired.

Jean acknowledged “missteps” at the charity before the earthquake but rejected claims of misappropriated funds.




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