Prof Ransford Gyampo, a political science lecturer at the University of Ghana, argues that the Electoral Commission should not allow the Seventh Day Adventist Church’s (SDA) request to postpone the date of the 2024 general elections.
Speaking on JoyNews’ Newsfile, he said that agreeing to shift the date, December 7, which is a Saturday, to another day might result in a deluge of similar requests in the future.
“With the greatest of respect to them, Ghana is our constitution that guarantees the free expression of our religion. At the same time, the constitution says we are a secular state. And so if it is a secular state, people have the right to exercise their religion, but this must not be exercised in a manner that sort of projects their religious beliefs and faith and ideals over those of the other people who also have different religious beliefs and faith and ideals.”
“So the point is that given that it is a secular state any day is fine. Otherwise, if we allow this tomorrow if election day is on Friday, Muslims will tell us that, well, they go to the mosque on Friday and go, we shouldn’t. If it falls on Sunday, you have a ponderance, majority of Ghanaians being Christian, they may say that it is going to disturb the day selected to worship their God.”
Prof Gyampo stated that, while voting is a national obligation, people should be able to choose whether or not to vote or to fulfill their religious duty.
“So long as the fundamental laws of the land says you’re a secular country, we should be careful not to allow all religious beliefs and sects to also come in making pleas and demands.”
“Today it is SDA if it is granted, tomorrow it will be Harikrishnas, Muslims, Christians and it creates a state of confusion and a state of factionalism in the body politics. It’s not something that we should encourage.”
This comes after the Seventh-day Adventist Church advocated for an adjustment to the 2024 December 7 election date, which falls on a Saturday.
The church, in separate applications to the Electoral Commission, requested that the elections be shifted from the traditional December 7 date because it comes on a Saturday, which conflicts with Sabbath, a holy day dedicated to God’s worship.
The church believes the first or second Tuesday will be more convenient for promoting inclusive democracy.
Furthermore, the Church is taking action by submitting another petition to the Attorney General and advocating for a revision to the constitutional restrictions that limit the time for conducting legislative and presidential elections in Ghana.