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Wyclef Jean Challenges Decision On Haiti Race

Jean pursuing legal action after commission rejects his presidential candidacy

August 23, 2010 2:51 PM ET

Wyclef Jean still plans to run for president of Haiti, despite an electoral commission having barred the singer. "After careful consideration and much soul-searching, I have made the decision to contest Haiti's board of election's pronouncement stating that I am ineligible to run for the presidency of the country," Wyclef said in a statement. "I will be seeking a solution through legal channels, and I urge my countrymen to be patient through this process."

The commission gave no reason for their decision, but Haiti's constitution requires that all presidential candidates live in the country for at least five years before starting a campaign. Jean has lived in the U.S. since he was a boy. (Fourteen other candidates were also rejected.) In an interview in this issue of Rolling Stone, Jean had left open the possibility that he would "challenge the judicial system if we feel like there's foul play."

Read Wyclef Jean's entire statement below.

After careful consideration and much soul-searching, I have made the decision to contest Haiti's board of election's pronouncement stating that I am ineligible to run for the presidency of the country. I will be seeking a solution through legal channels, and I urge my countrymen to be patient through this process.

In the 36 hours since the board's decision, I have been in constant conversation with my family, friends and advisers, and reading the comments of good people and supporters throughout the Haitian diaspora. I've also been closely monitoring the situation on the ground, which I am happy to report has remained peaceful and thoughtful. I, along with my supporters, am deeply disappointed that I have been denied the chance to present my candidacy to Haiti's voters. I want to continue in my efforts to always keep Haiti top of mind for the world -- I don't want to give anyone the chance to forget the earthquake victims, or my impoverished homeland, rich only in human potential and kindness.

These factors, and more, inspire me now. I am heartened by the world's focus on Haiti and its needs, as well as the great spirit of the Haitian people -- my people, and I cannot in good conscience give up my quest to lead Haiti to the greatness I know in my heart we are capable of reaching. I cannot surrender now, simply because an obstacle has been set before me; now is the time I must stand up and show Haiti -- and the world -- that my vision of a nation renewed and redeveloped is a vision for which I am willing to fight.

We in Haiti are united in our struggles, and we will be united in our victories and triumphs. Now is the struggle -- let us peaceably bear it and look forward to the time when our efforts will pay off, for all my fellow Haitians. Thank you for your love, understanding and support.

Wyclef Jean

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