Navajo president rejects language fluency bill

AP News
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Posted: Jan 02, 2015 7:30 PM

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Navajo President Ben Shelly has rejected lawmakers' latest attempt to change a requirement for presidential candidates to be fluent in the tribe's language.

The Navajo Nation Council passed a bill earlier this month to keep the requirement in place but have voters decide whether candidates meet it.

Shelly vetoed the bill Wednesday. He says the Navajo people should have a thoughtful, deliberate discussion about what it takes to be the tribe's top elected official and decide at the polls.

Shelly has vetoed similar legislation.

Chris Deschene (des-CHEE'-nee) was replaced as a presidential candidate last year after failing to show he could speak fluent Navajo.

Russell Begaye faces former tribal President Joe Shirley Jr. in the presidential contest that was separated from the Nov. 4 general election. A date hasn't been set.