August 9, 2010
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Anna Christopher, NPR


   

NPR NEWS INTERVIEW: WYCLEF JEAN ADDRESSES HAITIAN PRESIDENTIAL BID
AND RESPONDS TO CRITICS IN TWO INTERVIEWS AIRING TODAY

In two separate interviews airing today on NPR News, musician Wyclef Jean discussed his candidacy for president of Haiti and addressed public criticisms of his decision to seek the high office in his native country. The interviews are airing on the news and talk program Tell Me More and afternoon newsmagazine All Things Considered, and will be available later today at NPR.org, where there is currently report about both interviews.

Asked by Michel Martin, host of Tell Me More, about his qualifications to be president, Jean said: "Number one, that I am not a Haitian politician. The fact that youíve had this corruption and this massive economy toppled in the past 200 years. I think what makes me qualified is the fact that I am drafted by the youth, number one. I understand that to move Haiti forward, itís gonna take policies with these four pillars with five points: education, job creation, agriculture, security and healthcare. I clearly understand that. I also understand what makes me qualified is, if you have $5.2 billion sitting, which is promised by donors, somebody have [sic] to go get that money. And so you donít need just a local president. I think you need a president thatís global, thatís going to be moving through the globe."

Jean also responded to news that his former Fugees bandmate Pras will not endorse his run, telling Martin: "As I've matured in life, I haven't, if I look back 10 years or maybe 12, I haven't had a conversation with Pras for more than 30 seconds."

On All Things Considered, host Michele Norris asked Jean about recent scrutiny over his own finances: $2.1 million in back taxes owed to the United States, and alleged mismanagement of post-quake charity funds by his aid foundation, Yťle Haiti. "The idea of Wyclef taking money to put in his pocket, that is a no. The idea of taking personal money to give to my family, that is a no. ÖThe idea of Wyclef being corrupted is a no," he said.

Asked by Norris how he can manage Haiti's finances when his own are under question, Jean said: "The first thing is that I am not running from the IRS, that's the number one thing. The number two thing is, I make a lot of money a year. And the number three thing is, my accountants and my business people are handing the IRS."

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