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Haitian officials: Wyclef Jean will not be on presidential ballot

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Wyclef: Election decision a 'total shock'
  • Wyclef Jean says he accepts the committee's final decision
  • The hip-hop singer says his party was shocked by the news
  • He is among 15 prospective candidates rejected by elections officials
  • The officials have approved 19 candidates for the presidential race

Port-Au-Prince, Haiti -- Haitian election officials have rejected hip-hop singer Wyclef Jean's bid to run for president of the Caribbean nation.

Jean's name was not on the list of 19 approved candidates released by Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council on Friday night.

"I respectfully accept the committee's final decision, and I urge my supporters to do the same," Jean said in a statement.

In an interview with CNN shortly after the approved candidates' list was announced, Jean said he was surprised by the news.

"This has come to our party and to our group as a total shock," he said.

Video: Wyclef Jean on presidential candidacy
Video: Wyclef Jean wants to be Haiti's President
  • Haiti
  • Wyclef Jean
  • Caribbean

Jean was among 15 prospective candidates rejected. Elections officials did not provide a reason to reporters, but Jean's statement said they had ruled he was not a resident of the country.

"I want to assure my countrymen that I will continue to work for Haiti's renewal; though the board has determined that I am not a resident of Haiti, home is where the heart is -- and my heart has and will always be in Haiti," Jean's statement said. "This ruling just tells me that I can't officially seek the office of president."

On August 5, Jean announced on CNN's "Larry King Live" that he had submitted paperwork to run for president.

Since then, his possible candidacy 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's eligibility had been under question recently after claims that he had not lived in Haiti for five consecutive years before the election, a requirement in the nation's constitution. Jean's lawyer had said his client met that criteria.

Earlier this week, Jean challenged media reports that he would not be eligible to run, but also entertained the possibility that he would be declared ineligible, telling CNN on Thursday that he would continue organizing Haiti's youth to push for education reform.

"Haiti's constitution says that all kids should have the privilege of a free education, and that's something we'll push for whether we make it or not," he said.

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

He has been an outspoken proponent of Haiti through his Yele Foundation, and was one of the first celebrities to offer aid after the devastating earthquake there in January.

Journalist Yvetot Gouin contributed to this report.