The Seventh Day Adventist(SDA) Church submitted a petition to the Electoral Commission (EC) expressing concern that its members might be denied the right to vote because the general election is scheduled on December 7, a Saturday, a day set aside for religious worship.
The church is also requesting legislation to ensure that future elections in the nation do not take place on days that are significant to the religion.
The office of the National Chief Imam has accepted the proposals made by the church to reconsider the December 7 date.
Following this, the National Chief Imam’s spokesperson reiterated their endorsement of the SDA’s proposal while recognizing the difficulties the Muslim community would confront if elections were held on Friday, which is a holy day in Islam.
He emphasized how crucial it is to honor the holy days of various religions in order to guarantee that democracy permits everyone to vote without jeopardizing their religious beliefs.
“The Holy Quran makes it very clear that whenever the call to prayer is made on Friday, it says to stop any other worldly activity and hasten the remembrance of God.
“You cannot sacrifice the prayer so that you go and cast your vote because, for us, it’s a law in Islam. Our challenge is just at the time of our prayer and no Muslim will sacrifice the Friday prayer to go and cast because it’s it is seen as a mundane activity.
“For us, if we succeed in really getting a compromised day in which nobody’s religious practice is compromised or nobody’s religious right is undermined, I think that it will go a long way to also continue to unify us as a nation.”
The Attorney General’s office has been asked by the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church leadership to sponsor a bill that would change Saturday, December 7, 2024, election day to reflect that it is the Sabbath Day for worshiping God.
Nonetheless, the Church suggested the first or second Tuesday in November to guarantee a democratic exercise that is inclusive and does not purposefully prevent others from exercising their right to vote.
The Church stated that as a result of its fruitful interactions with the EC, the amendment is now required. The Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) in 2011 and the Electoral Reforms Committee in 2015 made proposals that are the basis for the church’s stance.
“It is the considered view of the Church that this bill should be sponsored by the Office of the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General (Executive) because of its nature. Hence, the request for this meeting with the Honourable Minister in that regard.”
“Pursuant to the work of the Constitutional Review Commission (2011) and that of the Electoral Reform Committee (2015), particularly with references to (i) Paragraph 265 at page 193, the CRC recommended the period for elections “not later than 60 days to the installation of a new President and Parliament on January 7. (ii) Likewise, the ECRC suggested a date change from “December 7 to November 7 in Proposal 8 on pages 10 and 11,” the church stated.
“The Seventh-Day Adventist Church (SDA) is proposing an amendment of non-entrenched Article 112(4) for Parliamentary elections to meet the period guaranteed in Article 63(2) for Presidential elections to be christened “Ghana Elections’ Date Amendment Bill.”
The Church met with the Electoral Commission in June of last year in an attempt to secure the modification of the election day of December 7.
The SDA Church emphasized that the Commission had assured its leadership that it would be willing to examine the proposal.
The Adventist Church states that this proposal aims to “ensure that no one is excluded from participating in the electoral process and help deepen electoral democracy.”
“In anticipation of changing the date for general elections from December 7 to the first (1st) or second (2nd) Tuesday of November, the leadership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church met with the Electoral Commission (EC) on Wednesday, June 7, 2023,” a portion of the petition to the AG reads.
“The Church proposed to the EC a change from the December 7 date to the 1st or 2nd Tuesday of November in a general election year. The outcome of the meeting with the EC was productive.