Constitution Day in Ghana Date in the current year: January 7, 2024

Constitution Day in Ghana In December 2018, a new holiday was added on the list of Ghana’s public holidays. Constitution Day in Ghana is celebrated on January 7 to mark the day when the current Constitution of Ghana, also referred to as the Constitution of the Fourth Republic, came into force.

Like in many other countries of the sub-Saharan Africa, the post-independence history of Ghana was quite tumultuous. There were several coups, and, accordingly, several constitutions, each reflecting the views and values of the new regime.

The first Constitution of Ghana was adopted shortly after the country’s independence from the United Kingdom in 1956. The independence constitution of 1957 converted the nation’s Legislative Assembly to the National Assembly, and provided for the representation of tribal chiefs in the regional councils. Three years later, the constitution was amended to transform Ghana into a one-party presidential republic, laying the groundwork for Kwame Nkrumah’s authoritarian regime.

The growing resentment of the Nkrumah regime led to the 1966 military coup. The National Liberation Council overthrew Nkrumah, suspended the constitution, and banned the formation of political parties, promising to restore civilian government as soon as possible. The constitution of the Second Republic of Ghana was adopted in 1969. It provided for a parliamentary republic and greatly reduced the president’s powers.

The Second Republic fell victim to another coup within a little more than two years since its establishment. In fact, there were several coups in Ghana between 1972 and 1979. Finally, the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) led by Jerry John Rawlings came to power in June 1979.

Mere months later, Rawlings handed over the power to the elected civilian government of the Third Republic of Ghana. However, the new government failed to improve the country’s economic situation, which led to worker strikes and, ultimately, another Rawlings-led coup. Rawlings once again suspended the constitution (the one adopted in 1979) and banned political parties.

In 1992, Ghana began a peaceful transition from military government to democracy. The newly established Consultative Assembly drafted a new constitution which received a 92% approval at a national referendum held on April 28, 1992. The constitution of the Fourth Republic entered into force on January 7, 1993. It reinforced the unitary nature of the state, established a US-style presidential system of government, and ensured greater freedom of press and fundamental human rights guarantees.

On December 25, 2018, Minister of Interior Ambrose Dery signed a statement proposing changes to the list of Ghana’s public holidays. According to the statement, Founders Day was moved from September 21 to August 4, the September 21 holiday was renamed Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Day, and January 7 was declared as Constitution Day.

The main goal of Ghana’s Constitution Day is to acknowledge Ghana’s collective efforts as a country in ensuring that the tenets of democracy, the rule of law, and the principles of constitutionalism are upheld at all times. The inaugural Constitution Day was celebrated on January 7, 2019.

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