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Wyclef submits presidential papers

Singer Wyclef Jean has submitted the paperwork to run for president of Haiti, formally thrusting himself into what is expected to be a highly competitive race and ending years of speculation about his political ambitions.

Dozens of supporters of the hip hop artist-turned-politician cheered as he arrived at an electoral office in a capital city still largely in ruins from the devastating earthquake in January.

Jean, who was accompanied by his wife and daughter, stood on top of a 4x4 and bowed to the crowd. "It's a moment in time and in history," Jean told reporters as he went to hand in his candidacy papers. "It's very emotional."

The winner of the November 28 election will preside over the billions in international aid being channelled to Haiti to rebuild after the earthquake, which killed an estimated 300,000 people and destroyed thousands of buildings, including most government ministries.

If Jean's candidacy is approved, he will face several candidates who lack his international fame but have more political clout. Among the most formidable contestants will be ousted ex-prime minister Jacques-Edouard Alexis, who secured the backing of President Rene Preval's powerful Unity party this week. Preval is barred from running by the constitution.

Jean was born on the outskirts of the Port-au-Prince but left the country as a child and grew up in Brooklyn. He gained fame as a member of the Fugees and went on to have a successful solo career. In recent years, he has been active in Haiti with the charity Yele Haiti, prompting long-running speculation that he would run for president one day.

Earlier Thursday, he stepped down as leader of Yele Haiti, which faced criticism for alleged financial improprieties.

Jean helped found Yele Haiti five years ago to raise money and build awareness of the myriad problems in his impoverished homeland.

It raised £5.6 million in the wake of the earthquake on January 12 this year.

Of that, it has spent £940,000 on food, water, tents, clothes and other products for quake survivors, said Cindy Tanenbaum, a spokeswoman for the musician.

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