Musician Jean calls for peace in Haiti


JACMEL, Haiti -- Wyclef Jean called on his Haitian countrymen to reject violence and work for a stable future during a free concert aimed at promoting development in the impoverished nation.

"It's time to build a new Haiti," the Grammy-winning artist told more than 20,000 cheering fans Friday night at the waterfront pier of this resort town. It was his first concert in Haiti in eight years.

The concert capped off a weeklong film and culture festival organized by Jean's Yele Haiti charity, which promotes music and the arts as a way to reduce poverty, create jobs and improve Haiti's image.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and most of its 8 million people live on less than $2 per day. The Caribbean country is struggling to recover from a bloody 2004 revolt that toppled former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Jean, a Haitian citizen who lives in the United States, condemned the ongoing street violence that has followed the revolt, especially a wave of kidnappings for ransom that have plagued the capital, Port-au-Prince.

"If we don't stop kidnappings, the country can't develop," Jean said.

Jean was born in Haiti but left for the United States with his family at age 9. He later achieved world fame through his hip-hop band, The Fugees.