Wyclef Jean endorses Martelly candidacy in Haiti
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Hip-hop musician Wyclef Jean on Wednesday endorsed the candidacy of popular carnival singer Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly in his bid to become the next president of Haiti.
The Ex-Fugees hip hop frontman, whose own presidential campaign was rejected by election officials last year, said he decided to endorse Martelly because he's technologically savvy and has a charismatic personality that will "help raise money with the donors."
"My endorsement is not based on the fact he's just my friend. That would have been an emotional thing," Jean told The Associated Press after making his announcement Wednesday evening at a hotel in Port-au-Prince.
Martelly, the No. 2 finisher in November's presidential election, faces top vote-getter Mirlande Manigat, a 70-year-old former first lady, in a March 20 runoff critical to Haiti's post-earthquake reconstruction.
Martelly flanked Jean during his endorsement and afterward thanked the Grammy Award winner, whose Yele Haiti charity has helped make him an influential figure in the poor Caribbean country of his birth.
Born on the outskirts of Haiti's capital, Jean grew up in New York and lives in New Jersey.
Jean said he plans on campaigning with Martelly on and off during the next month. He told AP he would not seek a government position in a Martelly administration.
Martelly last year secured the endorsement of Jean's former Fugees bandmate Pras Michel during Jean's own candidacy to become successor to outgoing President Rene Preval,
Official campaigning for the runoff election, originally slated for January, is set to begin Thursday. The final vote count — the naming of Haiti's next president — is not foreseen until April 16.