Hip-hop star Wyclef Jean has met privately with Haitian President Rene Preval to address questions about whether he would qualify to lead his earthquake-battered homeland.
Associates of the 40-year-old music mogul, best known as the frontman for The Fugees, denied accounts that he would be barred from running in the Caribbean nation’s first election since the devastating January 12 earthquake.
The Grammy-winning performer, who left Haiti for the United States when he was nine years old, raised speculation that he would learn his political fate Friday after meeting with Preval.
“We cannot confirm at this time at all,” Marian Salzman, a spokesman for Jean, told AFP. “‘Clef saw President Preval today and awaits answers tomorrow.”
Jean released a picture on micro-blogging site Twitter in which he and Preval smiled and held hands together. Jean did not explain what the two discussed but said “we had a great meeting.”
“I am inspired by President Obama. Communication is key,” Jean tweeted, saying that he voted in the last election for Preval who is constitutionally barred from seeking another term.
Thirty-four people are seeking to run for president on November 28 but the candidacies of nine of them, including Jean, are being challenged before electoral authorities.
Haiti’s electoral council is expected to publish the list of candidates on Friday.
Jean has promised to use his celebrity to seek a brighter future for long impoverished Haiti, whose already serious problems were multiplied by the earthquake which killed at least 250,000 people and left 1.5 million homeless.
Jean faces challenges on whether he meets residency requirements after having lived in the United States for much of his life, along with questions about payment of past taxes.
Actor Sean Penn, who runs a 55,000-person tent camp for the homeless in Haiti, and others have accused Jean of misusing hundreds of thousands of dollars he raised after the earthquake for a charity he ran.
“He has been virtually silent for those of us in Haiti; he has been a non-presence,” Penn told CNN in an interview earlier this month.
In a report Tuesday, The New York Times spotlighted a history of poor financial management at Jean’s Yele Haiti charity, including a 250,000-dollar payment it made to a television station that the singer and a cousin had recently acquired.
In a statement, Jean acknowledged “missteps” at the charity before the earthquake but called claims that 250,000 dollars were misappropriated an “outright falsity” circulated by disgruntled former employees.
“Unhappy former employees, old rumors and long negated claims are simply distractions at this crucial juncture, when my advisers and I need total focus on the Haitian situation,” he said.