Friday, August 20, 2010

Does Wyclef Jean Qualify to Serve as President of Haiti?

A Haitian election official said this week that hip-hop star Wyclef Jean does not qualify to serve as president of Haiti, according to the Guardian.  (The New York Times reports here.)  Jean, who announced his candidacy earlier this month and has been considered a favorite, may not meet the Haitian Constitution's requirement that its president "[h]ave resided in the country for five (5) consecutive years before the date of the elections."  Jean argues that he splits his time between the U.S. and Haiti and that he is a goodwill ambassador for the country who is supposed to roam.  (Jean meets the other requirements for the office.)  The electoral commission should issue its ruling any day now.


Here's the Haitian Constitution section on election and qualifications of the president.  (Article 135(e) is relevant to Jean's candidacy.)

Section A: The President of the Republic

Article 134.  The President of the Republic is elected in direct universal suffrage by an absolute majority of votes.  If that majority is not obtained in the first election, a second election is held.

Only the two (2) candidates who, if such be the case, after the withdrawal of more favored candidates, have received the largest number of votes in the first election may run in the second election.

Article 134-1.  The term of the President is five (5) years.  This term begins and ends on the February 7 following the date of the elections.

Article 134-2.  Presidential elections shall take place the last Sunday of November in the fifth year of the President's terms.

Article 134-3.  The President of the Republic may not be re-elected.  He may serve an additional term only after an interval of five (5) years.  He may in no case run for a third term.

Article 135.  To be elected president of the Republic of Haiti, a candidate must:

a) Be a native-born Haitian and never have renounced Haitian nationality;

b) Have attained thirty-five (35) years of age by the election day;

c) Enjoy civil and political rights and never have been sentenced to death, personal restraint or penal servitude or the loss of civil rights for a crime of ordinary law;

d) Be the owner in Haiti of at least one real property and have his habitual residence in the country;

e) Have resided in the country for five (5) consecutive years before the date of the elections;

f) Have been relieved of his responsibilities if he has been handling public funds.

Article 135-1.  Before taking office, the President of the Republic shall take the following oath before the National Assembly:

"I swear before God and the Nation faithfully to observe and enforce the Constitution and the laws of the Republic, to respect and cause to be respected the rights of the Haitian people, to work for the greatness of the country, and to maintain the nation's independence and the integrity of its territory."


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