Wyclef Jean Announces Run for Haitian Presidency

Wyclef Jean, accompanied by his wife, Claudinette, daughter, Angelina, and other close family members, announced this evening that he will make a bid for the presidency of Haiti in the country’s upcoming November election. Jean formally shared his intentions on tonight’s “Larry King Live” on CNN, ending weeks of speculation that reached a fever pitch with Jean’s resignation early yesterday from Yele Haiti, an NGO he co-founded in 2005. Jean will be one of a number of candidates seeking to replace incumbent Rene Preval.

Jean was born in Haiti and despite immigrating to the U.S. at the age of 9, has maintained his Haitian citizenship as well as a tireless commitment to improving conditions in his native country. Considered the most popular Haitian in the world, Jean has leveraged the recognition and access afforded by his successful musical career to attract global attention and assistance to Haiti. In his role as Haiti’s goodwill ambassador, Jean traveled the world, forging partnerships and garnering financial and resource commitments from political leaders, corporations, celebrities and individuals.

In 2005, Jean established Yele Haiti, a nongovernmental organization that uses sports, media and the arts to educate and empower Haitians from every walk of life. Distinguished by its singular focus on Haiti and grassroots structure designed to empower all citizens to take active control over their future, Yele has been extremely effective in bringing meaningful change to Haiti. Since its founding, the organization has placed more than 10,000 children in primary schools and provided jobs, food, shelter and educational/cultural opportunities to scores of teens and adults. Yele’s post earthquake relief efforts raised $9 million and ensured that displaced Port-au-Prince residents had temporary housing and a reliable resource for critical supplies.

Now, Jean is seeking the opportunity to have a more direct influence in ensuring a new, prosperous future for his beloved homeland. “This is a move I have been considering for a long time, and now, with conditions in Haiti worse than they’ve ever been, I want to take my commitment to helping my country to the highest level it can go,” said Jean. “I can’t imagine a better way to ensure the development and growth of Haiti, and I worry that at this critical time if we do nothing, then nothing will be done.”

Jean intends to build his platform on four key planks: education improvement, job creation, security enhancement and financing initiatives to nurture agriculture and entrepreneurship. Dramatic improvements in these areas will enable Haiti to redefine itself socially, culturally, politically and to become a viable global player and partner. “From my experience running Yele, I’ve learned what works—and what doesn’t, and from my time as a U.N. goodwill ambassador, I know how to make things happen for Haiti at home and around the world,” Jean said. “Now is the time to bring all of Haiti together—I also know something about our Haitian diaspora—I know they want to be involved in building a new, better Haiti, and I believe that, as president, I can ensure that everyone with Haiti’s best interests at heart can work together to make our dreams of a reborn Haiti come true.”

The election will take place in on Nov. 28. Jean will be announcing his advisory team and providing specific details on proposed initiatives in the coming weeks.


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