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Supporters of Chris Deschene still upset with handling of election

Chris Deschene, right, with a supporter at a meeting on the Navajo Nation last week. Photo from Facebook

The Navajo Nation entered a new year without a new president, a situation that has stirred disappointment on the largest reservation in the U.S.

President Ben Shelly was inaugurated on Tuesday despite not surviving last year's primary. The unpopular leader will remain in charge until voters choose a successor but many are still upset with the way the ordeal has been handled.

“The people are hurt,” teacher Rebecca Nave Cling told The New York Times. “We have no faith in our democracy.”

The top two candidates from the primary were Chris Deschene, a newcomer, and Joe Shirley Jr., a former president. Deschene was disqualified just days before the general election because he is not fluent in the Navajo language.

"It's a mess," Shirley told the Times.

Deschene remains popular and has been drawing large crowds at meetings on the reservation. But without a change in tribal law regarding fluency, he won't be allowed to run in this year's special election.

“They believe their votes should count,” Deschene told the paper. “No one respected their voice.”

The primary is due to take place June 2. All of the candidates in last year's election are eligible to run without paying another filing fee.

The top two candidates will advance to the August 4 general election.

Get the Story:
Navajos Face Leadership Crisis as Lawmakers Take Office, Minus a New President (The New York Times 1/17)

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