PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Singer Wyclef Jean plans to govern Haiti in English and Creole if he is elected president, setting him apart from his political rivals in this former French colony.
The former Fugees frontman made the comments to Radio Metropole on Tuesday after returning to Haiti from the United States.
Politicians in Haiti traditionally speak mainly Creole and French — the latter for many things being the language of government in Haiti. Jean’s American-accented Creole and lack of French are constant reminders he did not grow up here.
Jean, who was born in Haiti but raised in New York City, also urged overseas Haitians to invest in Haiti.
Jean announced his candidacy Aug. 5, then left Haiti the next day. He returned Tuesday afternoon, an adviser said in an e-mail.
He had been scheduled to appear at a fundraiser in Massachusetts for Gov. Deval Patrick on Tuesday evening, but bowed out to travel to Haiti.
It was unclear how long the 40-year-old Jean, who owns a home in New Jersey and property in Haiti, would be in the country.
There is some debate over whether Jean will even be on the presidential ballot Nov. 28. According to the constitution, Haitian presidents must have lived in the country at least five consecutive years before election day.
An eight-member provisional electoral council is spending this week verifying candidates’ credentials.
Jean’s campaign is expected to argue that his 2007 appointment as an ambassador-at-large for Haiti exempts him from the requirement.
He has entered a highly competitive and crowded race for a difficult and dangerous job. Only one person has completed a democratically elected 5-year term in Haiti’s history — current President Rene Preval, who is poised to do it a second time and hand off to an elected successor since he is barred from seeking re-election.
The winner of the election will take on responsibility for a destroyed capital, 1.6 million homeless people and countless groups fighting over billions of dollars in international reconstruction funds pledged after the January earthquake that killed an estimated 300,000 people.