US Secretary of State
Hillary Rodham Clinton praised Sudan Monday for the peaceful, orderly referendum on independence for Southern Sudan, calling it "a significant achievement for the Sudenese people", dpa reported.
"The United States commends the millions of Southern Sudanese people who participated in this historic process, and applauds both northern and southern leaders for creating conditions that allowed voters to cast their ballots freely and without fear, intimidation, or coercion," she said in a statement.
International election observers earlier Monday had called the landmark referendum on independence for Southern Sudan credible and said a vote in favour of secession looked almost certain.
Preliminary results are due by the end of January, with final results to follow after a maximum of two weeks. Early results point toward an overwhelming vote in favour of independence for the autonomous region.
The week-long referendum, which wrapped up Saturday, is the centrepiece of a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war between the mainly Muslim north and the Christian and Animist south.
Clinton vowed US support as Sudan continues to work to fully implement the 2005 peace agreement.
"The parties have an opportunity to forge a durable peace between the North and the South, and to build positive relationships with the international community," she said. "We hope they will seize this moment, and the United States supports their efforts to ensure a peaceful, more prosperous future for all Sudanese."
More than 2 million southerners died and 4 million were displaced in Sudan's second north-south civil war.