No Presidency for Wyclef


No Presidency for Wyclef. PETIONVILLE, Haiti – Hip-hop star Wyclef Jean’s bid to become Haiti’s next president ended late Friday, after the country’s Provisional Electoral Council made its long-awaited announcement.

Jean was not among the 19 candidates who made the final cut to be eligible to compete on the Nov. 28 presidential ballot.

Also out: Miami activist Lavarice Gaudin.

As the council made its announcement, Jean was en route to Lasser, after having spent most of the day in an upstairs room at the Kinam Hotel, while his supporters gathered outside the wrought iron gates.

Moments before leaving, he spoke on local radio telling supporters to be calm but “prepare to mobilize.”

He left without addressing the crowd – a who’s who of Haitian hip-hop that had descended on the hillside hotel.

After the council’s announcement, carried live on Haitian radio, the pitch black streets outside the electoral body’s headquarters were calm, except one lone motorcyclist who screamed “viv, Wyclef Jean!”

“It is not Clef who will lose. It’s an entire generation that will lose out,” said Lord Kinomorsa “King Kino” Divers, a slum activist, singer and Jean’s personal consultant.

“Clef will return to his beautiful home in New Jersey. The people in the tents, the people in misery, the people who have no jobs, they are the ones who will lose out. He came here with a good heart.”

But even with Jean out of the race, the road to the Haitian presidency will prove to be a difficult journey.

Among the candidates: several ministers in former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s cabinet, as well as members of Haitian President René Préval’s INITE (Unity) platform.

The list also includes two former prime ministers and musician Michel (Sweet Micky) Martelly.

Préval’s pick, Jude Célestin, made the list.

“Célestin, with the backing of Préval and INITE, is the great favorite,” said Robert Fatton, a Haiti politics expert at the University of Virginia.

“There are two major “unknowns” at the moment: what does Wyclef do? And who has the backing of the international community?”

The governing body charged with picking the list of candidates to compete for Haiti’s presidency took its time making that decision Friday, pushing its deadline late into the night as supporters gathered in the streets and peacekeepers kept an uneasy watch.

A spokesperson read off the names and none of the council members stayed around to comment. It was not a unanimous decision.

As the intrigue continued into the night, a somber Jean had held firm to his belief that he would be on the final list of candidates allowed to compete in the Nov. 28 presidential ballot, based on his conversation with Haitian President René Préval.

Most experts don’t expect this election season will be peaceful.

“Will there be violence? Yes,” said James Morrell, a longtime Haiti observer and executive director of the Haiti Democracy Project in Washington, D.C. “The question is how strong and widespread.”

Already, Pétionville and other neighborhoods in the hills above Port-au-Prince have been the site of kidnappings, the United Nations and others say.

They add that some political figures are tapping gang leaders to instigate unrest and to carry out abductions to collect money to hire street protesters.

“It would come as no surprise if we were to find interested parties behind the gangs,” said David Wimhurst, a U.N. spokesman. “They’re going to go back to their old tricks.”

Earlier this week, Haitian police tightened Haiti’s porous borders with the Dominican Republic.

Meanwhile, United Nations police in riot gear were strategically positioned across the capital to prevent problems.

Earlier in the day U.N. police along with Haitian National Police arrested 68 suspects in Cité Soleil slum, said Jean-François Vezina, U.N. police spokesman.

Vezina said the operation had nothing to do with the elections, or anxiety over street violence if Jean or other candidates didn’t make the final cut.

“We are in the field at different strategic points, ready to be with the Haitian National Police,” Vezina said.

Source: The Miami Herald, By JACQUELINE CHARLES, posted on Saturday, 21.08.10

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