….. ‘Desperate’ Senate Pro-Tempore allegedly maneuvering to survive Capitol Hill’s reelection jinx
When a troubled Senate Pro-Tempore, Albert Tugbe Chie, lamented at the opening of the 6th and final session for the 54th Legislature that history has unfortunately never been kind to senators seeking re-election, many sensed that he was expressing fear of losing the power, prestige, and perks that come with the office he occupies.
Being one of 15 senators who are seeking reelection this year, Chie is worried that many incumbents may not return — a jinx at Capitol Hill that the Grand Kru County Senator is reportedly doing everything in his means to overcome — if it even includes playing a double-standard with the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) to ensure that he succeeds, as some are alleging.
With the chances of the ruling party winning the October 10 presidential elections getting slimmer by the day, some within the hierarchy have accused Chie of flirting with the Unity Party, which is considered a potent opposition party that has the claws to unseat the CDC, in order to maintain his relevance in the corridors of power if the inevitable happens.
He has been accused of voter trucking, secretly supporting an opposition party, and allegedly using other unorthodox means to ensure that he is reelected come October.
Media reports over the weekend claimed that Chie, an Executive Member of the CDC, donated 15 brand new (pickup) vehicles and 75 motorcycles for the Unity Party (UP) campaign.
He is also accused of not only collaborating with the UP, but also with other opposition groups in the Senate. Local radio stations, in their reports, accused Chie of being involved in ‘double-dealing’, and that the purchase of the vehicles and bikes was intended so that if the UP gets elected to state power, they would support his bid for the Senate Pro Tempore over Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, who has reportedly been promised that high office.
The reports also claimed that Chie aimed to prevent the opposition from fielding a candidate against him in Grand Kru County ahead of the upcoming elections.
Chie’s alleged support for the former ruling party is reportedly causing serious confusion within the CDC, leading to a split within the Grand Kru County legislative causes.
This is not the first time Chie has been accused of supporting opposition interests. It could be recalled that in 2020, some CDCians accused him of providing financial support to then Montserrado County senate candidate, Abraham Darius Dillon, to pay his poll watchers. The pro tempore, at a press conference, admitted to giving Senator Dillon 7K USD during the campaign period leading to that election.
The funds were meant for Dillon to outdo his archrival and CDC candidate Thomas Fallah in the Montserrado County Senatorial mid-term election, Chie’s critics said.
It can also be recalled that during the 2020 Senatorial Election, Chie was also reported to have secretly campaigned against the CDC candidate, Dr. Peter Coleman and heavily supported former Representative Numene T. H. Bartekwa, who emerged winner.
It has been reported in Grand Kru that the Pro Tempore’s anger is against Dr. Coleman, who is to become the “Klubah” [Political Godfather] in Grand Kru. His deception during the 2020 Senatorial Mid-term election against the CDC candidate caused problems in both the local chapter and national headquarters.
If true, it will be the 3rd time Sen. Chie has allegedly ‘played’ the CDC, his critics have said. These alleged acts of betrayal range from his alleged support to Sen. Dillion, Sen. Bartekwa and purchasing of vehicles and bikes for UP.
Additionally, Pro-Tempore was also accused recently of ‘trucking voters’ from across the country to boost his re-election in Grand Kru County.
Chie, according to the Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC), transported voters from all parts of the country to register in Grand Kru during the just-ended phase two of the National Elections Commission’s biometric voter registration exercise.
“The ECC received reports of Senate Pro-Tempore Albert Chie being allegedly involved with voter trucking in Grand Kru from Maryland and other areas of the country,” the Liberian elections monitoring group said in a statement. “Neither the National Elections Commission nor the Ministry of Justice took any action to stop this serious electoral violation.”
The allegation against Chie, if proven, would constitute a crime of election malpractice. Section 10.1a of the National Elections Law prohibits the ‘trucking of voters’.
However, reports of the Pro Tempore’s alleged ‘secret’ donation to the UP has caused stir in the ruling party with some doubting the reelection prospects of the CDC for its second term.
Also, last week, the crass-talking Prophet Key reported on his podcast the purchase of the vehicles and motorbikes and alleged that the President called Pro Tempore Chie but he denied it and said the vehicles and bikes were bought by the Indian business community.
“President is vexed. He and Pro Tempore Chie are not on speaking terms because of the doublecrossing,” political commentator, Prophet Key said.
Chie was elected Senator in 2014 and was a member of the UP until 2018 when he jumped ship to the CDC and was elected President Pro Tempore. His office has denied that he bought vehicles and motorbikes and is secretly supporting the former ruling party.
Atty. Lavoisier Julu, Chief of Office Staff to Pro-Tempore Chie, said the story is “fake and misleading, aimed to put the Senator against President George Weah and the CDC.”
“This is not true and is only meant to cause confusion between the President and my boss,” Julu told reporters over the weekend.
An auxiliary of the CDC, in a statement over the weekend, also defended Senator Chie regarding allegations about his involvement in donating over seven new pickups to the opposition Unity Party.
The group under the banner of “Political Action Bureau for the Re-Election of President George Weah” dismissed the allegations, terming them as false, unrealistic, and lacking any evidence.
The group’s Chairman, Morris A. S. Swen, said after engaging with officials from the Coalition for Democratic Change, Unity Party, car dealers, the Liberia Revenue Authority, and the National Port Authority, they found no evidence to support the claim that Senator Chie made any donations to the Unity Party.
“There is no record at various car dealers in Monrovia and its environs to indicate that Senate Pro-Temp Chie made a donation to the Unity Party,” Swen said.