Wyclef to Haiti: “If I Was President…”

Photo: timeinc.net via Honey Mag

Alvin Greene may have ushered in a new era: political candidacy as farce. Having served Haiti’s two-term constitutional limit for executive leadership, incumbent René Préval is on his way out. Enter Wyclef.

Wyclef Jean, of Fugees fame and Yèle Haiti notoriety, may run for President of Haiti on November 28. Rumors of presidential aspirations first surfaced in 2007, when President René Préval appointed Wyclef Jean as Haiti’s ambassador-at-large. In July 2008, Wyclef released a song called “If I Was President.”

And now, Wyclef revealed in an interview with the Associated Press that he does intend to be involved in the presidential election, but not necessarily as a candidate. During an interview with Fox Business, he was asked whether he planned on running or not, to which he replied “I would say right now, currently at this minute, no.” Thanks a lot for clarifying.

However, there are several signs that he will eventually try to get his name on the ballot. An unnamed government source divulged to Le Droit, a Canadian publication, that Wyclef is merely waiting for an official stamp of approval before the August 7 deadline. Haitian presidential candidates must have lived in Haiti for five consecutive years, own property in Haiti and have never been a citizen of a country other than Haiti.

Furthermore, Wyclef’s recent activities reflect undercurrents of political ambition. For example, he rang the opening bell for the NASDAQ stock market in New York. He wrote an op-ed entitled “We need to start rebuilding my country..NOW” that was published in the UK’s Daily Mirror. As a Twitter superstar with 1.5 million followers, he tweets regularly, sending updates on Yèle Haiti’s activities as well as fostering policy discussions on dual citizenship and the problem of NGO sprawl.

With money, fame and the concomitant clout, Wyclef may win the election. A fair number of candidates are expected to enter the presidential race; however, Wyclef’s stardom may outweigh candidates with sounder policies or better fiscal discipline. The “Wyclef President of Haiti” Facebook page has already accrued 1,200 fans, whose wall posts are largely welcoming and hopeful.

Screenshot: Wyclef President of Haiti Facebook Group via facebook.com

Suzanne Merkelson at Foreign Policy’s Passport blog remarks that despite his scant qualifications to be a head of state, his election would probably be an improvement, considering the very low bar set by Préval.

“If I Was President” showcases solid economic policy in superb lyrical form: “Instead of spending billions on the war / I can use that money, to feed the poor / I know some so poor, when it rains that’s when they shower.” We are probably splitting hairs, but we find it curious that Wyclef uses the indicative, implying that becoming President is a reality within reach.



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