PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI - Hip-hop star Wyclef Jean has released a song calling on Haitian voters to cast ballots for one presidential candidate, while the outgoing president's musician son hastily issued his own track touting his father's hand-picked successor.
The musical campaigning comes days before Haitians cast ballots for the next president, legislative races and local offices. The Oct. 25 elections are expected to clear a packed presidential field, leaving the two highest vote getters to compete in a Dec. 27 runoff to become Haiti's next leader.
Jean's reggae-tinged song being shared online over the last few days features the Haitian-American performer giving enthusiastic support to Jude Celestin, the former head of the state-run construction company who is one of the top candidates in this election.
In Haitian Creole, Jean sings: "The time has come, I'm supporting Jude Celestin, to destroy the corruption, to stop the deforestation.'' He calls on people to vote "31,'' Celestin's spot on the ballot, and says he needs a Haitian president who "loves his country and respects the culture.''
A native of Haiti who rocketed to international fame in the 1990s as a member of the hip-hop trio The Fugees, Jean had sought to be a Haitian presidential candidate himself five years ago but electoral authorities disqualified him because he didn't meet residency requirements.
He then became one of Haitian pop star Michel Martelly's most high-profile supporters, actively campaigning for his presidential bid. Disputed preliminary results showed Celestin edging out Martelly for a spot in a runoff ballot, but under international pressure Haiti's electoral authorities reviewed the count and eliminated Celestin from the race.
Martelly ended up winning the presidency, taking office in May 2011. He is barred by the constitution from serving a consecutive term.
This time around, Jean says he will travel to Haiti to cast his vote for Celestin, instead of supporting Martelly's chosen successor, Jovenel Moise.
Jean's public endorsement of Celestin was apparently not taken lightly by Martelly's son, Olivier, also a Haitian singer, who released a pop song heavily aided by Auto Tune urging voters to back Moise instead.
In an apparent dig at Jean, he urged people who have been blocked from going to the national palace to "stop complaining'' and trying to "bluff the people.''