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Musician Wyclef Jean bids for Haitian presidency

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Reuters

Hip hop musician Wyclef Jean has officially entered the race to become president of Haiti, saying he was inspired to do so by January’s devastating earthquake. The founder of 1990s group The Fugees, Jean returned to his native country on Thursday to file his candidacy papers at an electoral council office in the capital Port-au-Prince.


Dozens of supporters greeted him as he arrived in the Caribbean country with his wife and daughter.

"The United States has Obama, here you're going to have Wyclef," he said. "We have to live together, work together to change Haiti, open more schools … I'm asking you not for money, but your power for change."

Jean, who lives in New York, has won support in Haiti but has already faced his share of criticism. US actor Sean Penn, who runs a tent city in Port-au-Prince for victims of the 12 January quake, accused Jean of misusing more than $400,000 dollars donated to his charity.

"He has been virtually silent - for those of us in Haiti he has been a non-presence," Penn told CNN on Wednesday. "So, I want to see someone who is really, really willing to sacrifice for their country and not just someone who I personally saw with a vulgar entourage of vehicles that demonstrated a wealth in Haiti that - in context - I felt a very obscene demonstration."

Earlier this year, Jean denied that his Yele Haiti Foundation had misused funds, after a 2006 tax return showed that more than a third of its revenues went towards covering miscellaneous expenses.

Current President René Préval is barred by the constitution from seeking a new term in the 28 November election. Jean is one of five people to have registered a bid to replace him.