After weeks of media hype, rapper Wyclef Jean’s bid for the Haitian presidency ended Aug. 21 after the country’s Provisional Electoral Council did not approve his candidacy. He was among 15 other candidates rejected in the race, council spokesman Richardson Dumel told reporters in Haiti.
“Though I disagree with the ruling, I respectfully accept the committee’s final decision, and I urge my supporters to do the same,” Jean wrote on his blog. “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.”
Although the council has not given a specific reason for Jean’s exclusion, the entertainer said his Haitian residency came into question. The council requires all candidates to live in the country five years prior to a presidential bid.
“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,” Jean wrote in his statement. He came to the U.S. at the age of seven and has lived most of his adult life in New York and New Jersey.
Nineteen prospective candidates made the council’s list, among them former Prime Minister Jacques-Edouard Alexis and Yvon Neptune, the last prime minister under exiled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Another entertainer, Michel Martelly, popularly known as “Sweet Mickey,” was also approved.
Jean’s brief candidacy, announced in early August, drew international attention to the Caribbean nation that is still recovering from a devastating earthquake in January. But the media fanfare also brought to light more questions about Jean’s personal finances and his work with his nonprofit foundation, Yele Haiti.