Wyclef Jean backs Martelly campaign

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Haiti's presidential candidate Michel Martelly, right, and Haitian-born singer Wyclef Jean (AP)

Hip-hop musician Wyclef Jean has endorsed the candidacy of popular carnival singer Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly in his bid to become the next president of Haiti.

The former Fugees frontman, whose own presidential campaign was rejected by election officials last year, said he decided to endorse his friend because he is technologically savvy and has a charismatic personality that will “help raise money with the donors”.

“My endorsement is not based on the fact he’s just my friend. That would have been an emotional thing,” Jean said after making his announcement on Wednesday evening at a hotel in Port-au-Prince.

Mr Martelly, who finished second in November’s presidential election, faces Mirlande Manigat, a 70-year-old former first lady, in a March 20 run-off critical to Haiti’s post-earthquake reconstruction.

Mr Martelly flanked Jean during his endorsement and thanked the Grammy Award winner, who is an influential figure in the poor Caribbean country of his birth.

Born on the outskirts of Haiti’s capital, Jean grew up in New York and lives in New Jersey.

Jean said he plans on campaigning with Martelly during the next month. He said he would not seek a government position in a Martelly administration.

Mr Martelly last year secured the endorsement of Jean’s former Fugees bandmate Pras Michel during Jean’s own candidacy to become the successor to outgoing president Rene Preval,

Official campaigning for the run-off election, originally planned for January, has begun.

The final vote count and the naming of Haiti’s next president is not expected until April 16.

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