Wyclef Jean caused quite a stir earlier this month when he announced that he would be running for president of Haiti. In the weeks that followed, Jean faced a lot of backlash from critics, actor/activist Sean Penn and even his former Fugee’s partner-rhyme Pras about his political ambitions. Just last week the CEP, Haiti’s provincial election council, denied Clef’s bid to run for office, seemingly crushing the artist’s chances. XXL rounded up a group of respected music industry professionals—namely former editor for The Source and Vibe, Erik Parker, of MTV’s The Parker Report; esteemed writer Kris Ex; journalist Alvin “Aqua Boogie” Blanco; and editor for streetlevel.com, Andreas Hale, as well as XXL’s EIC Vanessa Satten and Wyclef Jean’s brother, entertainment lawyer Sam Jean, to speak on the topic over AOL Instant Messenger. Join the political carnival. —Jesse Gissen
Jesse Gissen: So I’d like to welcome everyone to this digital roundtable today – which we appropriately call AIM & Fire.
Jesse Gissen: I’d like to especially welcome Sam Jean, Clef’s brother, for joining us at such a last minute notice.
Sam Jean: No problem. Glad to be here.
Jesse: As you all know, today’s discussion is on Mr. Wyclef Jean and his ambitious prez campaign in Haiti.
Jesse: Now as you all are also aware the CEP, Haiti’s electoral board has shut down his prez bid, which many are saying is because he hasn’t lived in the country for the last five years which disqualifies him. Do you all think that’s fair?
Kris Ex: I think it’s legal, but not necessarily fair.
Jesse: How so?
Alvin “Aqua Boogie” Blanco: If you’re going by the letter of the law it was fair but with dozens of candidates, were all of them accepted or rejected by the same set of rules?
Kris Ex: I find it very arbitrary that Haiti is being “constitutional” at this point.
Erik Parker: Also more importantly, what does that mean? I don’t think anyone really thinks Clef can fight this thing.
Kris Ex: I think he’s right to bring the issues to light.
Andreas Hale: That’s my primary concern – the setting of rules for presidential candidates.
Sam Jean: And that is Clef’s issue as well. Based on the requirements and based on past CEP rulings. And based on the candidates they allowed to run there are some inconsistencies there. And Clef’s appeal is about bringing light to their standards and due process.
Aqua: We all know the US plays by its own rulebook.
Erik Parker: But this here is not really a US thing is it?
Kris Ex: Well, the US press is giving it a lot of ink.
Erik Parker: You can look far enough back and the US and the international community can be connected to all things. I think it is right that the US is giving it ink.
Jesse: Sean Penn is giving it a lot of ink.
Andreas: I’m with Erik on this. It’s not about the US.
Kris Ex: Sean Penn is putting in a lot of work in Haiti
Erik Parker: I think Wyclef is right to use the US press to shame some members.
Kris Ex: He’s the only candidate that had to run two campaigns.
Sam Jean: I think the decision of the CEP rests squarely with the CEP. The decision not to allow Clef to run was made by the political powers in Haiti. And they basically eliminated any candidate that they considered from the diaspora
Kris Ex: I find it hard to not look at this and say it’s not a US thing in many ways.
Jesse: Do you think the CEP is scared that Clef will win.
Erik Parker: Maybe we should explore that more Jesse. Why don’t they want Clef to run?