PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Hip-hop star Wyclef Jean visited Haiti to try to help end a wave of violence that has left at least 79 people dead, including several police officers and two street gang leaders.
The singer met with community and gang leaders in Bel Air Sunday as gunshots rang out. The neighborhood, filled with supporters of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, has become a flash point for violence.
Jean said he planned to talk to all sectors of Haitian society during his four-day visit to promote dialogue and plans for a peace concert in December.
The U.S. presidential election could help or hinder the process, he told The Associated Press.
“Everyone is watching the elections so close from here,” he said.
“I think if (President) Bush comes in power then there’s not too much of a negotiation with Haiti. It’s more like whatever… he wants to do he’s just going to do it,” Jean said in an interview Monday.
“I think if (John) Kerry became president, he would bring peace. There would be a dialogue,” he said of the Democratic nominee.
Aristide has accused the United States of committing a coup against him in February and kidnapping him aboard a U.S. chartered plane that took him to Africa. The United States said he went freely and denies the allegation.
There has been an escalation of violence in Port-au-Prince since demonstrators marked the Sept. 30 anniversary of a 1991 coup against Aristide by taking to the streets to demand his return.
According to the National Coalition for Haitian Rights, the number of people treated for gunshot wounds at the capital’s General Hospital rose from 114 in September to 127 from Oct. 1-26.