Wyclef Jean for Haiti president: Four challenges he'll face
Wyclef Jean is expected to officially announce his run for Haiti president tonight on Larry King Live. The Monitor spoke with Wyclef's brother and spokesman about the major challenges he'll face before he can win Haiti's presidency.
In Pictures Wyclef for President
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“Win or lose, Clef’s participation in this election has the potential to change the landscape of Haitian politics," says his brother, Sam Jean, who is acting as spokesman. "It’s going to bring an incredible amount of scrutiny, and that’s good for the Haitian people."
Wyclef is a strong contender to win the whole thing, say analysts, although he will face questioning in the coming weeks over at least four issues: his residency, his education, his political ideology, and allegations of improper practices at his non-profit Yéle.
Wyclef’s residency is in the spotlight because the Haiti Constitution requires, in Article 135, that a president never have taken foreign citizenship and to have resided in the country for five years consecutive to the election.
Wyclef was born in Haiti and moved to the United States when he was nine years old. He now owns homes in New Jersey and Jérémie, a coastal town about 280 km west of Port-au-Prince. And while he represents Haiti as ambassador-at-large, he is also frequently touring the world playing music.
So it remains unclear if he has lived in Haiti long enough, or consistently enough, to meet the constitutional requirement.
“Our Haitian legal team has looked over it,” says his brother, speaking to the Monitor by telephone Thursday from Los Angeles, where he runs the small consultancy Majenation Inc. Sam, who has taken American citizenship himself, says his brother Wyclef “has never, ever become a naturalized citizen. I suggested that it would make things easier [while on music tours]. He said, ‘No, I’m keeping my Haitian passport.’ ”
As such, Jean says Wyclef's candidacy is legal, but it is widely expected to be challenged in the coming months.
Beyond questions of legality, Wyclef faces scrutiny over his lack of education. After graduating from Vailsburg High School outside of Newark, he briefly attended Five Towns College on Long Island in the late 1980s. He dropped out after less than a year to pursue a professional – and very successful – music career with The Fugees and then as a solo artist.
Nevertheless, in May he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Western Connecticut State University.