Accra, Dec. 4, GNA - This year's presidential and parliamentary elections began officially on Saturday with special voting by those, who would be on duty on Election Day, Tuesday.
The affected officials include members of the Armed Forces, Police, Prisons, Customs, Excise and Preventive Services, Ghana National Fire Service, Journalists, Electoral Commission (EC) and staff of essential services. Special poll ing stations had been mapped out by the EC for the exercise and voting started 0700 hours.
As has been the practice, after the Special Voting, the ballot boxes, which would be sealed before voting starts, would not be opened. They would be transported to safe places for storage and opened only after the general population votes on Tuesday.
There are four Presidential and 952 Parliamentary Candidates contesting the Election 2004.
President John Agyekum Kufuor, who is standing on the ticket of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), is seeking re-election.
He is being challenged by Professor John Evans Ata Mills of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr George Aguddey of the Convention People's Party (CPP) and Dr Edward Mahama, representing the Grand Coalition comprising the People's National Convention (PNC), Every Ghanaian Living Everywhere (EGLE) Party and Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP).
Eight political parties and independent candidates are contesting the parliamentary election. The parties are the NPP, NDC, CPP, PNC, EGLE, National Reform Party (NRC), Democratic People's Party (DPP) and GCPP.
Statistics made available to the Ghana News Agency by the EC indicates that NPP is contesting in 226 seats while the NDC is contesting 229 seats.
The CPP is contesting 173 seats, PNC 125, DPP and EGLE 30 seats each, GCPP 10 seats and NRP five seats.