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Navajo Nation candidate Chris Deschene won't halt campaign

Chris Deschene and his running mate, Fannie Atcitty, campaign on the Navajo Nation. Photo from Facebook

Chris Deschene, a candidate for president of the Navajo Nation, will continue his campaign even though the tribe's highest court said he must be removed from the ballot.

Deschene was disqualified due to his lack of fluency in the Navajo language. The Navajo Nation Supreme Court said election officials must print up new ballots without his name.

"It is unavoidable that the November 4, 2014 election must be postponed," the court said in a decision that was issued Thursday morning.

But Deschene said legislation enacted by the Navajo Nation Council just after midnight ensures the viability of his candidacy. Bill 0298-14 states that language proficiency is an issue left to the voters.

"Our campaign continues," Deschene said on Facebook earlier this morning. "After midnight, and after much thoughtful deliberation, the Navajo Nation Council passed legislation that respects our fundamental right to choose our own leaders."

The vote on the bill was 11-10, The Navajo Times reported. Pro Tem Speaker LoRenzo Bates had to step in and break a tie, the paper said.

The Navajo Election Administration had previously contemplated a delay in the election due to the language issue. The agency hasn't publicly responded to the Navajo Nation Supreme Court's mandate.

Russell Begaye, who came in third in the tribe's primary, will appear on the new ballots if election officials follow the court's order. Joe Shirley Jr., a former president who speaks Navajo fluently and who came in first, remains in the race.

Get the Story:
22nd Council passes removal of language requirement just after midnight (The Navajo Times 10/24)
Navajo Nation Supreme Court orders Chris Deschene off the general election ballot (The Farmington Daily Times 10/24)
Language Dispute Halts Navajo Election (The New York Times 10/24)
Navajo Council changes language rule for candidates (The Arizona Republic 10/24)
Navajo Nation Council passes emergency language requirement repeal (The Arizona Capitol Times 10/24)
Navajo high court orders election postponed (AP 10/23)
Navajo Nation presidential candidate disqualified (KOAT 10/23)
Navajo Postpone Election in Language Fracas (Courthouse News Service 10/23)

Navajo Nation Supreme Court Decision:
Tsosie v. Deschene (October 23, 2014)

Navajo Nation Supreme Court Order:
Tsosie v. Deschene (October 22, 2014)

Earlier Navajo Nation Supreme Court Order:
Tsosie v. Deschene (September 26, 2014)

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