PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Haiti's electoral commission said late Tuesday that it was postponing its ruling on who will be allowed to run for president in November elections, leaving hip hop artist Wyclef Jean's candidacy in limbo.
A statement from the commission, known as the CEP, said it would postpone the announcement until Friday.
The delay was the latest turn in the fledgling presidential race in this earthquake-torn country. Jean — one of dozens of candidates vying for the office — said he was in hiding Tuesday after receiving death threats.
The musician disclosed the threats in a series of e-mails to The Associated Press, revealing few details. Jean said he received a phone call telling him to get out of Haiti and that he was in hiding in a secret location in the Caribbean country.
The Haitian-born Jean said he did not know whether the commission would approve his candidacy, but there have been questions about whether he meets the residency requirements to run.
"We await the CEP decision but the laws of the Haitian Constitution must be respected," he said in one of a flurry of e-mails.
Later in the evening, Jean sent the AP a one-word e-mail: "Hope!"
The CEP's decisions — or lack thereof — sparked small protests throughout Port-au-Prince. During one peaceful march near the CEP office Tuesday afternoon, several dozen young men marched and sang in the rain.
Later in the evening, a main road in and out of the city was blocked by burning tires.
Haiti's Constitution requires candidates to have lived in the country for the five consecutive years before the election. Jean knew his U.S. upbringing could be a roadblock to his candidacy, but has said his appointment as a roving ambassador by President Rene Preval in 2007 exempts him from the residency requirement.
Lawyers for the musician were at the CEP headquarters seeking to argue his case, he said.
More than 30 people had filed to run for president of a country still struggling to recover from the Jan. 12 earthquake, which destroyed thousands of buildings and killed an estimated 300,000 people. The candidacies of some 20 people were contested, the CEP announced; in order to properly decide on their eligibility, the group said it needed more time to investigate.
The CEP had been expected to publish the list of candidates earlier Tuesday but spokesman Richardson Dumel said the eligibility requirements of a number of candidates were still under review.
Haiti's president will preside over the spending of billions in foreign reconstruction aid in a country with a long history of political turmoil. Preval is not permitted to run for re-election.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton was in Port-au-Prince to meet with the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission. The group moved a step closer to implementing a set of priorities aimed at helping the country rebuild. On Tuesday, it announced more than $1.6 billion in projects, including a $500 million plan to overhaul the country's failed education system.
Associated Press writer Evens Sanon contributed to this report.
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