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HIP-HOP HAITI

International hip-hop/reggae artist Wyclef Jean this week ended months of rumors and declared his candidacy for president of Haiti, setting up a possible family feud with his uncle, the former Haitian ambassador to the United States who also is planning to run for president.

Mr. Jean announced his candidacy in a number of American newspaper interviews on Wednesday and on a Miami radio program on Thursday.

“I’m not running for president so much as I’m being drafted” by the youth of Haiti, he told the New York Times in an interview from his New Jersey home.

“The decision is made,” he told the Wall Street Journal.

On Radio Tropic’s “Bonjour Haiti” show on Thursday, he said he feels compelled to run to change the political climate in Haiti and help the millions of Haitians left homeless by a massive earthquake in January.

“For the 250,000 people who died in the earthquake, that’s the reason we ought to see a change in the system,” he said.

In the Journal interview, he expressed his belief that he could be a force to unify Haiti’s squabbling political factions and give hope to the nation’s youth, who suffer extremely high rates of illiteracy in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

“I’m someone who can connect the parties together and basically be a leader for the youth for what they’ve been crying for for years,” he said.

However, his uncle, Ambassador Raymond Joseph, warned Mr. Jean that a tough campaign lies ahead.

Mr. Joseph told the Christian Science Monitor last week that a race between him and his nephew would present voters a choice of “popularity versus experience.”

Mr. Joseph, ambassador in Washington since August 2005, submitted his resignation this week to President Rene Preval, who cannot run for re-election because of term limits.

Meanwhile, one obstacle remains to a Wyclef Jean candidacy. Haiti’s constitution requires presidential candidates to meet a residency requirement of five years before the election. Mr. Jean, 37, carries a Haitian passport but has not lived in Haiti since his family left the country when he was 9 years old.

NO APOLOGIES

The U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe refused to apologize for walking out of the funeral of the sister of President Robert Mugabe on Sunday, after Mr. Mugabe used the ceremony to denounce Western countries for criticizing widespread human rights abuses in his southern African nation.

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About the Author
James Morrison

James Morrison

James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...

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