Agreement allows Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly to stay in office until election

The Daily Times Staff
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly will remain in office until a new president is elected and takes over the office.

Council delegates met with Shelly to sign the agreement on Saturday afternoon, according to a press release from the Navajo Nation Council's Office of the Speaker.

This comes after Shelly and the council signed an agreement on Jan. 9 to have Shelly stay in office until the start of the council's winter session, which begins today.

The recent agreement states that both the council and Shelly agree the election is of "the utmost concern," and both parties agree to "encourage, facilitate and expedite" the election of a new president, the press release states.

Shelly and Vice President Rex Lee Jim took the oath of office on Jan. 13 in the Office of the President and Vice President in Window Rock, Ariz.

The presidential election, originally scheduled for Nov. 4, has endured a number a setbacks.

Candidate Chris Deschene, who placed second in the primary election in August, was accused him of lying about his ability to fluently speak the Navajo language, a requirement for the office.

The tribe's Office of Hearings and Appeals ultimately disqualified him via a default judgement, and his name was replaced with that of Russell Begaye, a former council delegate who finished third in the primary election. Begaye is expected to face former tribal president Joe Shirley Jr.

The press release states Saturday's agreement began to develop after Shelly and council delegates met on Jan. 22 to discuss the presidency.

Several delegates commended the parties for meeting and reaching an agreement.

"Coming to the table and talking with one another has made us revert back to our traditional ways to resolve this," said Delegate Tom Chee, who represents Shiprock Chapter, in the release.