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Election council rejects Wyclef Jean's Haiti presidential candidacy

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Wyclef: Election decision a 'total shock'
  • NEW: Wyclef Jean says he accepts the committee's final decision
  • NEW: The hip-hop singer says his party was shocked by the news
  • He is among 15 prospective candidates rejected by elections officials

Port-Au-Prince, Haiti -- Hip-hop singer Wyclef Jean is not on the list of candidates approved by Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council to run in this year's presidential election.

Jean's name was not on the list of 19 approved candidates Haitian elections officials read to reporters Friday night.

"I respectfully accept the committee's final decision, and I urge my supporters to do the same," Jean said in a statement Friday night.

In an interview with CNN shortly after the approved candidate list was announced, Jean said he was surprised by the news.

"This has come to our party and to our group as a total shock," he said.

Video: Wyclef Jean on presidential candidacy
Video: Wyclef Jean wants to be Haiti's President
  • Haiti
  • Wyclef Jean
  • Caribbean

Jean was among 15 prospective candidates rejected. Elections officials did not provide a reason to reporters, but Jean's statement said they had ruled he was not a resident of the country.

"I want to assure my countrymen that I will continue to work for Haiti's renewal; though the board has determined that I am not a resident of Haiti, home is where the heart is -- and my heart has and will always be in Haiti," Jean's statement said. "This ruling just tells me that I can't officially seek the office of president. More importantly, there is no one who can tell me to stop my work in Haiti, and there is no one who could."

He told CNN he planned to explore options to continue with his candidacy. "We will see if we will appeal it or not," he said.

Jean's eligibility had been under question recently after claims that he had not lived in Haiti for five consecutive years before the election, a requirement in the nation's constitution. Jean's lawyer had said his client met that criteria.

Earlier this week, Jean challenged media reports that he would not be eligible to run, but also entertained the possibility that he would be declared ineligible, telling CNN's Larry King on Thursday that he would continue organizing Haiti's youth to push for education reform.

"Haiti's constitution says that all kids should have the privilege of a free education, and that's something we'll push for whether we make it or not," he said.

Journalist Yvetot Gouin contributed to this report.