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Wyclef Jean not on approved list of Haiti presidential candidates

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Wyclef Jean on presidential candidacy
  • Jean says he'll fight for education reform if he's declared ineligible to run
  • Jean's lawyer said his client is eligible to run because he has been paying taxes in Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (CNN) -- Hip-hop singer Wyclef Jean is not on the list of candidates approved by Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council to run in this year's presidential election.

Jean met Thursday with Haitian President Rene Preval to discuss threats that Jean has received since declaring his candidacy earlier this month. The two had a "great conversation," Jean said.

Jean said he declined an offer from Preval for increased security, saying he now feels "comfortable" about his safety.

Jean's eligibility is under question after claims that he has not lived in Haiti for five consecutive years before the election, a requirement in the nation's constitution. Jean's lawyer said his client meets that criteria.

Video: Wyclef wants to be president
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In a statement earlier Thursday, Jean sounded more determined about his candidacy. "My job as the commander-in-chief will be to make Haiti once again the 'pearl of the Antille,'" he said.

"For far too long -- since the Duvalier regime -- Haiti has held its hands out for charity and pity, but the corrupt government abused the international financial committees that came to the country's aid," Jean said, referring to the regime that ruled Haiti from the '50s to the '80s.

"This will be no longer acceptable under my leadership," he said.

Jean said Thursday that he plans to ask all Haitians living abroad to invest $10 to help rebuild Haiti's infrastructure, from roads to schools to movie theaters. Each donor would get a share in a project, he said.

"I'm saying we will return Haiti to what it once was, but bring it into the modern world," Jean said in his Thursday statement.

Haiti's election commission was originally scheduled to rule on Jean's eligibility on Tuesday but postponed the decision.

Berto Dorce, Jean's lawyer, said this week that his client is eligible to run. "His candidacy has been contested and we went to court and proved that he is legally entitled to run for president," Dorce said. "Jean's position is pretty strong. He should be on the list."

Dorce said Wyclef has been paying taxes in Haiti, which makes him eligible.

Jean announced August 5 on CNN's "Larry King Live" amid fanfare that he had filled out the paperwork to run for president.

Since then, Jean's announcement has met with some criticism. Haitian-American rapper Pras, who once performed alongside Jean and Lauryn Hill in the '90s group The Fugees, said he supported Jean's opponent.

Actor Sean Penn, who has lived in Port-au-Prince for months since the earthquake helping displaced Haitians, also questioned whether the Haitian-born musician could make moves to lead the devastated nation.

Jean has reported receiving multiple death threats. "We have been getting threats since last night telling me if I know what's good for me, I would get out [of] the country," Jean wrote in an e-mail to CNN on Tuesday.

Jean's lawyer also talked about the alleged threats. "We cannot tell who are sending these threats, but the closer the announcement, the more threats Jean is getting," Dorce said.