- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 3, 2010

HAITIAN RIVALS?

Haitian Ambassador Raymond Josephthis week left Washington to return to Port-au-Prince, where he is expected to announces his candidacy for president in the Nov. 28 election.

His decision to run could set up a political showdown with his nephew, the popular hip-hop performer Wyclef Jean, who has hinted that he also might return home from the United States to campaign for president.

However, that development would be less a family feud than a friendly rivalry because Mr. Jean has encouraged his uncle to run, while, at times, dampening speculation that he would also be a candidate for the same office.

Mr. Joseph said that if he and his nephew both became candidates, they would be “running parallel” rather than “running against” each other.

“I think Haiti needs all her sons and daughters,” he told the Christian Science Monitor in an interview last week.

Last year, Mr. Jean tried to dismiss rumors that he would run for president of Haiti when he accepted an award for community service from the Congressional Black Caucus.

“I am not running for president of Haiti,” he said, adding that he wished his uncle would seek the office, according to a report from Black Entertainment Television’s bet.com.

However, recently when asked about his potential candidacy, Mr. Jean has ducked the question.

“At this time, Wyclef Jean has not announced his intent to run for Haitian president,” his charitable foundation, Yele Haiti, said in a statement last month. “If and when a decision is made, [the] media will be alerted immediately.”

Mr. Joseph, Haiti’s ambassador to the United States since 2005, has spent much of the year appealing for aid to help the victims of a devastating earthquake that struck Haiti in January. More than 200,000 died and up to 2 million were left homeless, as the tremors shattered what was left of the economy in the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.

Mr. Joseph was a journalist for most of his adult life before President Rene Preval appointed him ambassador. He was an outspoken critic of the father-son dictatorship of Francois and Jean-Claude Duvalier in the 1960s through the mid-1980s.

RECALLED TO LIBERIA

Ambassador Milton Nathaniel Barnes is returning home to Liberia, after a recall from President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who fueled political rumors in the West African nation when she gave no explanation for the order she issued on Monday.

Mr. Barnes, who was one of 22 candidates for president in 2005, is considering running again in 2011, but he has denied criticizing Mrs. Sirleaf at private dinners with Liberian friends in Washington.

“I received an official letter from President Sirleaf [Monday], recalling me to Monrovia for consultation and a possible reassignment,” he told the Voice of America. “Considering that [in] my appointment I serve at the will and pleasure of the president, I have received the letter with gratitude and appreciation.”

Asked about rumors that he expressed opposition privately to Mrs. Sirleaf’s policies, he said, “It’s absolutely not true.”

“I was invited to a friend’s birthday party,” he added. “There were political discussions, but I did not in any way, shape or form declare or express any ambition or political ambition.”

Mr. Barnes said he is still considering whether to run as a presidential candidate from the Liberia Destiny Party, an opposition movement.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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