Navajo tribal chairman Peter MacDonald has been ousted again from office after the tribe's supreme court suspended a temporary restraining order against the Tribal Council, which suspended MacDonald last week.
The decision came Friday as MacDonald's opponents marched to a tribal court in Kayenta, Ariz., to protest the restraining order, issued by MacDonald's brother-in-law, Judge Harry Brown.On February 17 the Council voted to suspend MacDonald with pay to give him time to clear his name. Earlier this month businessmen and contractors told a special Senate investigating committee that they gave MacDonald thousands of dollars in kickbacks and gifts.
MacDonald, 60, tribal chairman for the past two years and for 12 years previously, is also the subject of a federal grand jury investigation in Phoenix.
Following public hearings before the Senate panel he agreed to step down as chairman but changed his mind after the Tribal Council refused to pay for his legal fees and a business office.
The 25,000-square-mile Navajo Reservation spans parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah and is home to 165,000 Navajo Indians.
The supreme court justices ruled that Brown acted without jurisdiction in the case. They ordered him to appear before them next week to explain his actions.
MacDonald's lawyers said they will appear at that hearing to argue their client's case.
MacDonald maintains that the Tribal Council's decision to place him on leave is a violation of the laws of the Navajo Nation and of his right to due process.