Haiti Presidential Election Update

Written by Plant With Purpose on August 25, 2010 in General

By Annie Fikes

Last Friday, Haitian election officials seemingly answered the question as to whether or not former-Fugees singer Wyclef Jean will run for president of Haiti. Officials released a list of 19 candidates who are legally qualified to run in the November election, and Jean was not on it. Jean was cut from the list because he does not meet the 5-year residency requirement for candidates.

Wyclef is not, however, going down without a fight. Jean and his lawyers are appealing the election officials’ decision. Jean served as Roving Ambassador since 2005, and claims that he should be eligible because that position requires time spent outside the country, while Jean still retains his U.S. residency. From what I’ve read, it seems unlikely that the decision will change. 

Even if the ruling stands, Wyclef’s candidacy (however short) will still have an impact on the election. His bid brought publicity to Haitian politics that it would not otherwise have had. He also has an opportunity to influence voting through his endorsement of another candidate.

Jean also changed the dynamics of this presidential election by highlighting the importance of Haitian youth. Haitian youth make up more than half of the 9 million Haitian citizens, and are a widely disenfranchised group, disengaged and unsatisfied with current Haitian politics. Wyclef Jean had the support of many of the young people in Haiti, and has shown other politicians the importance of this huge voting block. Media interests and leading candidates in the election are taking notice of Haitian youth and the electoral power that they have, in part due to Jean’s candidacy.

In the 2009 U.S. election, Americans learned a little about the immense and widely unused power that young people have to influence elections. Haitian youth are more than half of the voting base! By drawing attention to them, Jean has helped change the way many candidates will approach this election. Deeper youth involvement could have a huge impact on Haiti in the future; possibly changing the way politics are run. I’m excited to see what happens!

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