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Wyclef Jean says he is running for president of Haiti

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Wyclef Jean to run for president of Haiti
  • NEW: Jean stresses the need for education, jobs, agriculture, security and health care
  • Elections are scheduled for late November
  • Jean says he will represent the voice of the youth
  • He was born in Haiti and has been active in earthquake relief efforts there

(CNN) -- Hip-hop artist Wyclef Jean told CNN's "Larry King Live" on Thursday he is running for president of Haiti.

Jean was one of the first, and most visible, celebrities to offer aid after a devastating earthquake hit Haiti in January. He has also been an outspoken proponent of the nation through his Yele Haiti Foundation, which has come under some scrutiny for how it spends its money.

"Yes, it's my first time announcing it live -- that today I went in, and I signed, and I am running to be the president of Haiti," said Jean, in his first television interview about his decision to run.

Whoever is elected in November, the new president will face the monumental task of rebuilding the country that was ravaged by a January 12 earthquake that killed more than 220,000 people, destroyed 60 percent of government infrastructure and left more than 180,000 homes uninhabitable.

Whoever steps in will also oversee the billions of dollars in international aid that has been promised to the country since the quake.

"Now that our country has toppled, it's a chance to rebuild from the bottom on up," said Jean, adding he will be the voice of Haiti's youth.

Jean shot to fame in the mid-1990s as a member of the Fugees, a U.S.-based hip-hop and reggae group. He performs now as a solo artist.

Jean was born in Haiti, and moved to the United States as a young boy. He recently resigned as chairman of the Yele Haiti Foundation.

Jean, dressed in a gray suit and a red-, black- and white-striped tie, stressed the need for Haiti to improve education, as well as its agriculture, security, and health care. He also said job creation would be a central part of his campaign going forward.

Jean was in Haiti to submit the paperwork necessary for his run.

While little is known about his political agenda, lyrics from his song "President" may provide a sneak peek. In the song, Jean fantasized about what it would be like to lead a country.

"Instead of spending billions on the war. I can use that money, to feed the poor," he sung.