The brother said that unlike much of the family, Mr. Jean has never held a U.S. passport. Advisers believe Mr. Jean’s residency requirement will be waived because he has been a presidentially appointed Haitian goodwill ambassador, excusing his infrequent time in Haiti over the last several years.
Mr. Jean was the frontman for the Fugees before going solo. He is known for such hit singles as “We Trying to Stay Alive” and “Gone Till November.” With the Fugees, he recorded the Grammy-winning, multiplatinum-selling album “The Score.”
He is popular in Haiti for his music and for his work through his charity Yele Haiti, which raised more than $9 million after the Jan. 12 killed a government-estimated 300,000 people, displaced more than 2 million and knocked down most of the government ministries in the capital.
The organization was criticized widely for alleged financial irregularities after the quake, when scrutiny revealed that it had paid Mr. Jean to perform at fundraising events and bought advertising air time from a television station he co-owns, among other suspected improprieties.
Yele hired a new accounting firm after the allegations surfaced.
Rumors have swirled for years that Mr. Jean would run for president. The singer always has been careful not to rule out a run for the office and recorded a song titled “If I Was President,” although its references to war and billion-dollar spending seem to allude to the United States rather than Haiti.
In recent weeks Mr. Jean’s Twitter feed has been awash with original and retweeted demands for transparent elections, proposals for reducing Haiti’s chronic poverty and calls to defend camps of the estimated 1.6 million people made homeless by the quake from forced eviction.
Mr. Jean’s political profile is unknown. Living overseas, he has avoided many of the alliances and sometimes bloody rivalries that define Haitian politics. He cuts a strikingly different profile than the generals, technocrats and priest who have led it in recent years, speaking little French and Haitian Creole with a Diaspora accent.
He has said he voted for President Rene Preval in 2006, a year before the two-term president made him an ambassador. <r/ Preval is barred by the constitution from running again.
Reaction to Jean’s possible candidacy has been divided as Haitians debate the pluses and minuses of his inexperience.
“I will give him my vote. All these people who have been in Haiti haven’t done anything for us,” said Jean Leuis, a 22-year-old bread vendor.
Bosejour Leconte, a 34-year-old phone-card seller who has been living in a tent since the earthquake, thought otherwise.
“I don’t think he has the qualifications to be president. I’d rather vote for someone that has political experience,” he said.
Mr. Jean-Jacques and other politicians, including a senator from ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas party, which is not expected to be allowed to participate in the election, formed the Ansanm Nou Fo coalition ahead of February elections that were canceled because of the earthquake.
Haiti’s next president will face an enormous task. Presidents only rarely have completed a constitutional five-year term — most in history have been overthrown, assassinated, declared themselves “president-for-life” or some combination of the three.