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Wyclef Jean's uncle to run for president of Haiti

Wyclef Jean's uncle, Raymond Joseph – who is Haiti's ambassador to the US – tells the Monitor that he is running for president this fall. Will the hip hop artist and his uncle team up – or compete against each other in Haiti's presidential campaign?

By Staff writer / July 27, 2010

Haiti's Ambassador to the United States Raymond Joseph, shown here in January, told the Monitor that he will be running for president this fall. Joseph is the uncle of the Grammy-winning musician Wyclef Jean.

Saul Loeb/AFP/Newscom/File

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Wyclef Jean’s uncle, who is Haiti’s ambassador to the United States, says he will run for president of Haiti this autumn.

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Ambassador Raymond Joseph says that he will formally announce his candidacy next week, hinting that he would be campaigning alongside his immensely popular nephew, the hip hop singer.

In a turn of fate, it was Ambassador Joseph who helped push Wyclef on a Grammy-award winning musical career decades ago.

Joseph won't dispel reports that Wyclef Jean might run for president, citing respect for the Jean family’s privacy. But he says that the two wouldn't run against each other.

“No, I wouldn’t say running against, I would say running parallel,” says Joseph, ambassador since in 2005, speaking by telephone Tuesday. “I think Haiti needs all her sons and daughters.”

“We talked about this – we talk all the time,” he adds. “We are family. And we won’t allow politics to divide.”

Wyclef Jean, President of Haiti: Do Haitians like the sound of that?

Wyclef encourages uncle to run

Wycelf, who was appointed Haiti’s ambassador-at-large in 2007 and holds a diplomatic passport, has encouraged his uncle to run for president.

“I am not running for president of Haiti,” he said at an event in September 2009, adding that he wished that his uncle Raymond Joseph would, according to an article on BET.com.

Wyclef told The Associated Press in a recent interview he intended to be involved in the Nov. 28 election, but not necessarily as a candidate. "Do I have political intentions? At this time no,” he said. Campaigning alongside his uncle for a place in the presidential cabinet could explain what Wycelf meant.

"I think he [Joseph] would be a strong contender," says Eduardo Gamarra, a political science professor at Florida International University and a close follower of Haitian affairs. "I’m not endorsing him, but I am saying that he does fit the profile of what many expect to see in the next round: someone able to engage the international community."

"Ambassador to the US is a position of very high significance," he adds. "It’s a significant post, and a good venue in which to embark on a presidential campaign.

Professor Gamarra says Joseph is the first to announce he will be running for president. Other presidential candidates could include heavyweights Jean-Max Bellerive, the prime minister, and Leslie Voltaire, the special envoy to the United Nations. Both men, like Joseph, are close to Haiti President René Préval and could be contending for his endorsement.

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