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Wyclef Jean: I'm Qualified to Lead Haiti

Updated 10:23 a.m. ET

He's a hip-hop star and former member of the multi-platinum-selling group, The Fugees.

But now Haitian-born recording artist Wyclef Jean is putting his music career on hold, in a bid to become Haiti's next president.

While he admits he has no political experience, Jean said he felt compelled to run following January's earthquake that killed some 300,000 people, and left another 1.6 million homeless.

Last night, he formally became a candidate for president of Haiti.

Special Report: Haiti - The Road to Recovery

CBS News correspondent and "Morning News" anchor Betty Nguyen sat down with Jean just before he announced his candidacy and asked him, "We know you as a Grammy winner, we know you as a hip hop star. What are your qualifications for president?"

"I have no qualifications for president; I have qualifications for a leader," he replied. "The reason why I even entertain this idea is education, job creation, agriculture, bringing security into the country" . . . a country infamous for its repressive government.

"Haiti has a long history of corruption, cronyism," Nguyen said. "How are you going to handle that?"

"If I'm not corrupted, then there's a chance of me putting the right team around me that is not corrupted, where we can start to do business the right way," Jean said.

One of his first orders of business was to resign from his charity, Yele Haiti. The organization drew criticism following the January earthquake for alleged mismanagement of funds.

"When people look at that and see maybe a possibility of corruption, what is your argument?" Nguyen asked.

"You could say, 'Well, the governance of Yele Haiti was not right. So, how do I know you could govern a country if you couldn't govern a charity?' And what I will say to you is, I made a mistake. And what did I do? I fixed the mistake and I moved on."

He's now fully focused on his campaign, and says his wife may be the key to his success.

"She's from a place in Haiti called Jeremie," Jean said. "And they say that you can't win the election in Haiti unless Jeremie is on your side.

"So I said, 'Whoa, thank God I married a wife from Jeremie!" he chuckled.

In one of Jean's songs, "If I Was President," he wrote:

If I was President,
I'd get elected on Friday,
Assassinated on Saturday,
Buried on Sunday,
Then go back to work on Monday.


"Now that you're running, do those lyrics haunt you any?" asked Nguyen.

"No, the lyrics don't haunt me at all, because I'm sure before I become president I'll have a remix of the same song!" he laughed.

Watch: Wyclef Jokes about "President" Lyrics

Just hours before boarding a plane for Haiti, Jean was still wrapping up what he calls his last album.

It's a sacrifice he says he's making, not only for his daughter, but for future generations.

"I have to take what I used to sing about and turn it into policy," he said.

The big question, Nguyen notes, is whether he's eligible to run.

The Haitian Constitution requires a president to live there for five consecutive years before the election. Wyclef Jean moved from Haiti to New York when he was 9 years old. He still has a home in Haiti, and tells Nguyen he was even eligible to vote in the last presidential election.

That said, he believes he's still eligible.

And if he runs, he could find himself running against his uncle, Raymond Joseph, the former Haitian ambassador to the U.S.

Jean has faced other criticism on the heels of announcing his candidacy.

Academy Award-winning actor Sean Penn, who has spent an enormous amount of time on Haitian relief efforts, has come out and said he is "very suspicious" of Jean's candidacy, and said that for others in Haiti, Jean has been a "non-presence."

Wyclef Jean Responds to Sean Penn Criticism

Nguyen said, If you ask Wyclef, he will tell you, 'There are no motives; this the best way to help my country."