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Political violence leaves pro-democracy protester with damaged spinal cord

By Samuka V. Konneh  

The reason people give for joining political parties is a belief that the 
political parties share their core values. Vashie Sam Kpalleh, who is currently lying at the 
John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Monrovia with a damaged spinal cord, does not feel the Unity Party 
and President Sirleaf shares his vision for Liberia, and blames the party and President Sirleaf for his 
medical problem.
 Mr. Kpalleh, who is the Unity Party’s District #14 Youth Chairman, joined others during last week’s 
protest rally at the residence of party Standard Bearer,  President Sirleaf. Kpalleh and others accused 
the President Sirleaf of nepotism and marginalization, and took to the streets,  and to the president’s
residence to register their displeasure with President Sirleaf’s leadership style.
 As he lay helpless and undergoing treatment at JFK, Kpalleh indicated that he has come to the 
realization that life,  for him in today’s Liberia is impossible after Wednesday’s incident, which he 
attributed to the obvious lack of concern from his party hierarchy, whom he and others accused of 
‘masterminding violence.’
Because of the severity of his condition, however, doctors at JFK have restrained to confirm whether
his spinal cord has damaged significantly, to paralyze him.
In the midst of the confusion, the pro-democracy group, Movement Against Violence and Impunity in 
Africa  (MAVIA), after visiting the victim blamed Maryland County Senator, John Ballout, for masterminding 
the violence  that led to his injuries.
The group is cautioning young people against being used by politicians “who are thirsty for power and 
obsessed  with Madam Sirleaf’s presidency.”  The pro-democracy group believes the Unity Party could 
have channeled their grievance through a more responsible structure to end the protest rally. Instead, 
Senator Ballout, the group added is always causing chaos outside of the party at the detriment to national 
security to pursue his presidential ambitions after President Sirleaf exits the Executive Mansion in 
five years.
 Senator Ballout has confirmed his presidential ambitions, adding, “from the position of senior senator, 
where do you think I am going? There is nothing that I want more than the presidency of this country.” 
The real  threat to our democracy is weak political parties centered around individuals. I think we 
need to graduate from that point. We need to make sure our political parties are strong, and make sure 
they are institutions independent of individuals.”
 Senator Ballout has, however, denied that he masterminded the violence, and says he holds no regret for 
his intervention to calm the tension. “I was contacted by the Standard Bearer the night before the 
incident to mediate by arranging a meeting with the protesters. I immediately called upon the organizers
to call off their action because it was at night. We met early in the morning at their areas and talked 
to them and they all agreed to meet with the stand bearer,” Senator Ballout said.
Senator Ballout also said, “I have no part to play in the organization, and I was never informed 
throughout the planning stage. It is also a fact that I listened to the concerns raised by these partisans. 
I support their concerns 100 percent.
Despite the denial by Senator Ballout, Mr. Darius Dillon, a supporter of the governing class, also believes
that the  senator should be held accountable for the melee. “I am too surprised at the Liberian Senate, 
including the Liberian National Police Force. Senator Ballout should be arrested and investigated for 
inciting the people,” Dillon said.
While fingers are being pointed in every direction to find who masterminded the violence during the 
protest rally at President Sirleaf’s residence, Vashie Sam Kpalleh awaits the prognosis of his injury.

Samuka V. Konneh is News Editor, Public Agenda Newspaper, Monrovia,

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