The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia announced on Sunday that the voting for the 5th General Election had accomplished peacefully and successfully. The Chairperson of the Board, Professor Merga Bekana, said there has been a high turn out and the electorate had been able to cast their votes freely. The elections would, he said, have a significant impact in strengthening the country’s democracy. Representatives and leaders of the various competing political parties and the numerous public and Civic Society observers told reporters that the voting had been free, faire and peaceful. Voters were unanimous that they were able to vote without intimidation. As voting closed, the representatives of all the contesting political parties began the counting; the results will be explained at every polling station, said Professor Merga. The Chairperson noted that the only authorized body for the display of the election results would be the Electoral Board. He added that it was illegal to claim results in any form. The African Union Observation Team, which visited polling stations in Addis Ababa during the morning on Sunday, said that three polling stations in the morning said election officials had been on time and voting started at the prescribed time with all election materials were in place, domestic observers at the stations and some political party agents present. The AU team said it had received similar reports from its observers around the country. According to the Ethiopian News Agency most of the over 100 polling centers to which it sent observers opened on time and the election procedures were observed by the election officials and no incident had been reported. President Dr. Mulatu Teshome cast his vote early in the morning in Addis Ababa along with thousands of the city inhabitants. He called on all eligible voters to exercise their rights by voting for their favorite party and particularly urged the youth to give attention to contributing to the democratization process and sustain the nation’s development activities. Prime Minister Hailemariam cast his ballot at a polling station in Boloso Sore Woreda of Wolayita Zone in Southern Ethiopia Peoples state. He told reporters that the high turnout of voters across the country was a manifestation of the democracy flourishing in the country. The prime Minister was one of 1,350 candidates fielded by the EPRDF for the fifth general elections, which 36.8 million voters registered to votes. Fifty-eight political parties are competing for the 547 seat parliament and the regional state councils. Earlier in an interview with Al-Jazeera, the Prime Minister said the credibility of the election lies in the eyes of the public. A democratic, credible, fair and free election should be credible in the eyes of our people, who are responsible for electing all of us and it was for the people to judge. Ethiopia’s 90 million citizens, he said, were part of a healthy, multi-party democracy that holds elections every five years. The country’s democracy was a house in the making where every election is getting better than the previous election. He said, in addition to conducting periodic elections, “Ethiopia considers participating and engaging the public in all aspects of development as an important aspect of democracy”.