BY Katie Nelson
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Haitians headed to the polls to pick a new president Sunday among conflicting reports that former candidate wannabe Wyclef Jean was shot.
Jean said a bullet grazed his hand as he stepped out of a car to make a phone call, but local police claim he was only injured by glass.
“The way I can explain it is that the bullet grazed me in my right hand,” said the hip-hop singer, who has been in Haiti campaigning on behalf of Michel (Sweet Micky) Martelly. “I heard blow, blow, blow and I just looked at my hand.”
Jean said he was in a car with a driver in the Delmas section of the capital at the time. He doesn’t know who fired the shots, or whether they were directed at him, the 37-year-old Grammy winner said.
Cops down-played the violence, and say the New Jersey resident – a Haitian-American who hoped to compete in the Caribbean nation’s ongoing presidential race – suffered only a minor cut to his hand from glass in an apparent accident.
Meanwhile, voters lined up before dawn to choose either a former first lady or a popular singer to help the shattered country rebuild after the catastrophic 2010 earthquake.
A first round of votes took place in November, but only 23 percent of 4.7 million eligible Haitians cast ballots and the legitimacy of that 18-candidate race was widely contested. Polling stations were trashed and most of the candidates called for a re-run even before the polls had even closed.
This time around, voting appeared to get off to a relatively smooth start. Some polling stations opened late, while others initially lacked ballots and ink.
“Everything is peaceful, is more or less OK, much better than Nov. 28,” Mulet told The Associated Press as he toured polling stations.
Sunday’s election pits two vastly contrasting personalities against one another. Mirlande Manigat, a 70-year-old university administrator, former first lady and former senator, against Martelly, a 50-year-old pop singer and carnival performer known for crude onstage antics.
The winner will face major challenges, in a quake-ravaged country where nearly a million people are living on the streets and a cholera epidemic has claimed almost 5,000 lives since mid-October.
Among the hurdles: The Senate and Chamber of Deputies controlled by the party of outgoing President Rene Preval, who was barred by the constitution from running for re-election. And 800,000 earthquake victims remain in “temporary settlement camps.”
Also complicating matters: Two former presidents are watching from the sidelines.
Jean-Bertrand Aristide, 57, who was ousted in a 2004 rebellion, returned from exile in South Africa on Friday – two days before the election. His appearance sparked feverish speculation over his motivations, intentions and what kind of impact his polarizing presence would have on the race.
Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, made a shock return to Haiti of his own in January, ending his own 25-year exile.
Polls are scheduled to close at 4 p.m., and preliminary results announced March 31.
With News Wire Services
Wyclef is like the pyromaniac who starts fires and then stands by, in the crowd to watch.
During the period before he was eliminated, as a candidate, because he has not lived in Haiti for the required 5 years immediately before the election, as required by the Constitution, Wyclef claimed he has received death threats. Why would anyone want to kill Wyclef, other than for singing flat on a CD? He demanded a huge police protection unit. The police said it was a hoax.
Then he went on a public tour to say he was barred for a bunch of reasons, avoiding the Truth…..He did not meet the Constitution’s requirements.
Now, he cut his hand….a very minor cut that received a small stretch bandage. He was photographed. with this bandage, lying like a battle casualty on a hospital stretcher.
The majority of Haiti’s 9,000,000 suffer much worse and never see a hospital.
And now he has had a huge cast-like bandage applied, that makes it look as though he has a broken arm.
COME ON WYCLEF, GROW UP! YOU ACT LIKE A SPOILED, ATTENTION DEMANDING CHILD, JEALOUS OF OTHER. LET’S THINK OF HAITI, FOR ONCE, AND PUT YOUR EGO IN STORAGE FOR A FEW MOMENTS.