For Wyclef Jean, “If I Was President” will have to remain a song, not a stump speech. Haiti’s board of elections has squashed the singer/producer’s plan to run for president of his native country just two weeks after he announced his intent to seek office. Wyclef’s eligibility had been a question since the outset — Haiti’s constitution requires that candidates live in the country for five consecutive years, but the one-time Fugees musician has resided and paid taxes in New Jersey during that time. Check out Wyclef’s reaction the news below:
Beyond the issue of his residency, it couldn’t have helped that Wyclef had also come under intense scrutiny over the lackluster accounting practices of his charity, Yele Haiti.
In response to the news of his disqualification, Wyclef posted a statement saying:
“It is with a heavy heart that I tell you today that the board of elections in Haiti has disqualified me from my run for the presidency of the country. Though I disagree with the ruling, I respectfully accept the committee’s final decision, and I urge my supporters to do the same. We must all honor the memories of those we’ve lost–whether in the earthquake, or at anytime–by responding peacefully and responsibly to this disappointment.
I was inspired to run for president because I know Haiti can become great with the right leadership, and I believe I could be that leader; 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.
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. This ruling just tells me that I can’t officially seek the office of president. More importantly, there is no one who can tell me to stop my work in Haiti, and there is no one who could. I think of my daughter, Angelina, and it makes me want to redouble my efforts to help give all the children in Haiti better days.
I also want to honor the memory of my father, a minister; I know that he would tell me that even though I’ve faced a setback, I must continue in all my good-faith efforts to help Haiti turn a corner to a better and brighter future. Do not think that my role in the future of Haiti is over; it’s just a different role than I had anticipated it to be.
Rest assured, this isn’t the end of my efforts to help improve my beloved country but only marks a new beginning.
Signed, Wyclef Jean”
His disqualification will no doubt come as welcome news to his former Fugees bandmate Pras and actor/activist Sean Penn, both of whom had questioned Wyclef’s motives for seeking office.
No fighting, y’all.
Obviously, he’s got one good option left: join Lauryn Hill on the Rock The Bells tour. Who wouldn’t vote for that?