Hip-hop artist Wyclef Jean has confirmed plans to run for president in his native Haiti, saying he feels compelled to help his homeland recover from the Jan. 12 earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people. Jean has no political experience and his candidacy has been met with skepticism — his cousin and former Fugees bandmate Prakazrel "Pras" Michel is endorsing a more "competent" rival, and actor Sean Penn, who's running a tent camp for 55,000 earthquake victims, says he's "suspicious" of Jean's motives. Can Wyclef win? Should he? (Watch Wyclef's announcement)
No! Haiti needs a leader, not a singer: Wyclef Jean's love of Haiti is genuine, says Marjorie Valbrun at The Root, but he's "just not qualified." Haiti has suffered under too many "inept" rulers already. Now, more than ever, the country "needs a highly educated and experienced technocrat who understands the intricacies of governing and diplomacy" to rebuild its capital, give people jobs, "and ultimately restore its dignity."
"Dear Wyclef: Please don't run!"
Wyclef's candidacy could be good for Haiti: Wyclef Jean's popularity might be the perfect tonic for a "population that has grown cynical about the political process," says Garry Pierre-Pierre in The Grio. Jean, who moved to Brooklyn at age 9, might even inspire other Haitians living abroad to return and put their skills to work rebuilding their homeland. If nothing else, his fame will keep the international spotlight focused on Haiti when it needs the attention.
"'Yes Wyclef can!' Why rapper's presidential run may help Haiti"
Good or bad, Jean's candidacy is a long shot: Jean's no shoo-in — he might not even be allowed to run, say the editors of The Economist, since candidates are supposed to have lived in the country for the past five years. If he's deemed eligible, his shaky command of the country's two official languages, Creole and French, might make it hard for him to connect with voters. And the charity Jean founded, Yele Haiti, has been dogged by complaints of "sloppy management," which Haitians may see as a "cautionary tale" as they consider putting him in charge of the whole country.
"Making a run 'til November"