Thursday, August 26, 2010

Wyclef Jean cannot appeal against Haiti presidency ruling

Electoral council tells singer its decision to disqualify him from the Haiti presidential race is final

The door has slammed shut for the second time in Wyclef Jean's bid to become president of Haiti. According to the country's electoral council, the singer cannot appeal against his disqualification from the race. With officials refusing to review his file, Jean will now reportedly file a complaint with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

"Wyclef does not intend to stop here," explained Jean Renel Senatus, a member of his legal team. "We will exhaust all options, we will go all the way to fight this unacceptable decision." Last week, Jean was one of 15 proposed candidates disqualified from Haiti's presidential race, with the provisional electoral council citing the country's five-year residency requirement. Although Jean initially said he "accepted" the ruling, he later announced plans to appeal. "Friends ... warned me that much trickery would be used to block me," he said. "[This] has proved true."

A representative for the council's legal department declared yesterday that their decision cannot be challenged, citing article 191 of Haiti's electoral law. "When it comes to electoral matters, the electoral council is the supreme court, meaning there is nowhere else to go," Samuel Pierre said. "There is absolutely no possibility for Wyclef Jean to be added to the list of candidates approved to run in the next presidential elections. So it's over."

But Jean shows no sign of backing down. The ruling is "arbitrary", Senatus said, claiming that Jean is a long-time resident – his role as roving ambassador to Haiti simply forced him to spend lots of time abroad. "He has been living in the country for more than six years," Senatus said. Jean will now argue to the Inter-American Commission that his democratic rights have been violated, and Senatus is also considering filing with Haiti's highest court, the Cour de Cassation. Jean may also join forces with other rejected candidates, including his uncle, Raymond Joseph, Haiti's former ambassador to the US. "[We are] in talks about forming a united front against this arbitrary decision," Joseph said. "We do not think that the council can organise [a] democratic elections.

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