NEW YORK – Days after Haiti-born Hip Hop artist Wyclef Jean officially renounced his bid for the presidency of an earthquake-ravaged Haiti, President René Préval pulled him on stage Thursday at a gathering of the Clinton Global Initiative in a gesture of goodwill.
It was the first meeting between the two men since an angry Jean lashed out at Préval in Creole on his new single. He accused the president of being a deceptive “Lucifer” who orchestrated the Aug. 20 decision by Haiti’s electoral council to ban him from the Nov. 28 presidential ballot. He also demanded prison for the council’s eight members.
During a speech to hundreds of Global Initiative participants, Préval said Haitians love their country then called on Wyclef to join him on stage.
“He has made the plight of Haiti visible throughout the world even before the earthquake,” Préval said of a visibly stunned Wyclef. “He carries his country in his heart. And that is why I have made him a goodwill ambassador.”
Wyclef smiled but said nothing as he stood next to the president whom he had maligned.
Since his banning from the Haiti elections, Wyclef has become a sought after kingmaker among Préval’s opponents in the presidential race, who hope the excitement over the popular singer would help carry them to victory, especially among Haiti’s disaffected youths.
In a recent message in Creole to followers, Wyclef urged them to remain mobilized but said he would not be supporting any of the 19 candidates at this time.
The brief reunion between Wyclef and Préval occured during a special session on Haiti at the annual gathering by former President Bill Clinton, who also serves as co-chair of reconstruction efforts in Haiti with Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive.