Wyclef Jean was dealt a harsh setback on Friday when his name was left off a list of potential candidates in the upcoming presidential election in Haiti. But the rapper and humanitarian vowed over the weekend to fight the ruling that declared him ineligible to run in the November 28 election.
"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," he said in a statement issued on Sunday afternoon. "I will be seeking a solution through legal channels, and I urge my countrymen to be patient through this process. "
According to The Associated Press, Clef was slated to go to Haitian court on Monday (August 23) with his lawyers to appeal the decision before the national election dispute office. Jean told the AP on Sunday that he has a document that shows "everything is correct" with his presidential bid and that he and his aides suspect that his exclusion "has everything to do with Haitian politics" and not his legal eligibility for the position.
Though the election board did not specify why it rejected the former Fugees leader's bid, it is presumed it was because he did not meet the country's residency requirements, which state that a candidate must live in the country for five years.
Wyclef, who left Haiti with his family to live in New York at the age of 9, said on CNN that he was running because he felt he had been "drafted by the population" in the wake of the country's devastating January earthquake. "After January 12 ... being out here with my wife and picking up dead bodies from the ground, I felt that because of the youth of Haiti and the population, that this is not even Wyclef saying that 'I want to be the president of Haiti.' I feel like I'm being drafted by the population right now to give them a different face, a different voice," the singer explained.
"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," he said in his weekend statement. "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."
The "If I Was President" singer, whose candidacy was questioned by his former Fugees bandmate Pras, was one of 34 people vying to replace Haitian president René Préval, with only 19 candidates making the cut.
"We in Haiti are united in our struggles, and we will be united in our victories and triumphs," he wrote in conclusion in his statement. "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."
Do you think Wyclef should fight to get on Haiti's candidates list? Tell us in the comments.