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EC, IPAC deliberate on change of election date

An Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) meeting to deliberate on the change of the date for the 2024 general election was held in Accra on Monday [January 29, 2024].

The meeting was attended by representatives of the various political parties that make up IPAC.

The meeting, which started at 10:30 a.m. with the two Deputy Commissioners of the Electoral Commission (EC) -Corporate Services, Dr Eric Bossman Asare; and Operations, Samuel Tettey, at the helm of affairs was afford IPAC members an opportunity to discuss the EC’s proposal to move the election date from the traditional December 7 to November 7 and also make it a holiday.

While the EC maintained that it could go through the needed processes to effect the change of date, some of the political parties said activating such a move in an election year was too short a period.

However, the parties have agreed in principle that the processes for the change in election date could begin after the 2024 elections and be applied in the 2028 elections.

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) was represented by the Director of Research and Elections of the Party (NPP), Evans Nimako, and the Member of Parliament (MP) for Akuapem South, Osei Bonsu Amoah. 

Meanwhile, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) was represented by the party’s General Secretary, Fifi Fiavi Kwettey, and the Director of Elections and Information Technology, Dr Edward Omane Boamah.

Other parties such as the Convention Peoples Party (CPP), The Peoples National Convention (PNC) and the Liberal Party of Ghana (LPG) were present at the meeting.

At the meeting, the participants discussed the EC’s programme of activities for the year and the issue of general election day being made a holiday.

The burning issue for discussion was the feedback from the political parties on the proposal by the EC to hold the polls on November 7 instead of the usual December 7.

In an interview with the Daily Graphic after the meeting, Dr Bossman said the EC was satisfied with the proceedings at the IPAC meeting.

He explained that the main agenda was a discussion around finding a day in November for the election and making it a public holiday.

“Most of the parties supported the idea, but we still have some of the parties saying that it should be implemented in 2028.

We at the EC pleaded that we have what it takes to be able to do it this year,” he said.

He added that there had not been any firm decision on it yet, “but as a Commission, we will go back and reflect on it.”

NPP

For his part, Mr Amoah said the NPP was not opposed to the move by the EC to change the election date to November, as long as the Commission demonstrated the ability to do so.

“Our party’s position is that if the EC can work on its timetable to be comfortable with the parliamentary calendar, we do not have any problem,” he said.

He added that the NPP was opposed to a similar move by the EC in 2016 because the time was evidently short for the Commission to go through the parliamentary processes to change the general election day.

“In 2016, there was a bill in Parliament to change the date to November 7, but we argued that the EC did not appear to be ready for the November 7 election, and as a result, the bill did not pass the second reading,” he said. 

NDC’s position

Describing the discussions at the IPAC meeting as “healthy and cordial”, Dr Boamah said “there was an overwhelming consensus that given the load of work EC has to do in terms of parliamentary and presidential elections, they will be biting more than they can chew if they want to add the needed parliamentary processes to change the date for the elections.”

In terms of the day of the election, he said the general view was that the issue needed broader national discussion so that all shades of opinion could be factored into it for the appropriate decision to be taken.

“For the elections day to be made a holiday, we felt it is not necessary, but if others think it must be done, it can be considered,” he said.

He stressed that given the short time available for the EC to undertake various activities for this year’s polls, the issue of change of date should be shelved for the next election cycle.

Dr Boamah called on the EC to make the programme for this year’s elections available by the next IPAC meeting, which was likely to be in February.