Navajo Nation leaders object to presidential election on April 21

Russell Begaye, left, and his running mate, Jonathan Nez, put up a campaign sign. Photo from Facebook

The executive and legislative branches of the Navajo Nation are escalating their war against the judiciary as a dispute over a presidential election continues.

President Ben Shelly and Navajo Nation Council Speaker LoRenzo Bates issued a joint statement last night, striking out against the tribe's Supreme Court for ordering the April 21 election. The leaders accused the judiciary of overstepping its bounds and said language in the ruling was disrespectful.

"The court ordered its decision without the benefit of considering input from the Navajo Nation Council and the Navajo Nation President," Shelly and Bates said. "In fact, the Supreme Court went another step further by deeming the Navajo Nation Council to be a 'non-party' in its ruling."

Shelly and Bates, on behalf of the council, are asking the court to reconsider its decision to order the vote. They insisted that they will prioritize a different election to determine whether to change the Navajo language fluency requirement for presidential candidates.

"The general election for the Navajo President will take place after the Navajo people have an opportunity to vote on the question of fluency in a referendum," the leaders said.

Joe Shirley Jr., left, and his running mate, Dineh Benally. Photo from Facebook

Meanwhile, the council is considering legislation to remove Chief Justice Herb Yazzie from his post. Local chapters around the reservation are supporting the effort, The Navajo Times reported.

Presidential candidates Joe Shirley Jr. and Russell Begaye have been staying out of the fray as they continue their campaigns. Both are urging supporters to submit early ballots even though it's unclear whether the election will proceed.

Get the Story:
Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly, tribal council challenge Supreme Court's election ruling (The Farmington Daily Times 4/1)
Efforts underway to remove Herb Yazzie as chief justice (The Navajo Times 3/26)

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