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China Praises Sudan's Elections as 'Smooth, Orderly'

China has praised Sudan's first multi-party elections in 24 years as a "success" a day after the United States criticized the vote as neither free nor fair.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Jiang Yu, says a Chinese delegation that monitored Sudan's presidential and parliamentary elections found them to be "smooth and orderly." The polls were held between April 11 to 15.

Speaking Tuesday, Jiang also said the vote will benefit the reconciliation process between Sudan's north and south. He said Beijing will continue to play what he called a "positive and constructive role" in promoting that process.

The U.S. State Department said Monday Sudan's vote did not meet international standards, echoing assessments from election observers of the European Union and the U.S.-based Carter Center.

Early results show Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir heading toward an expected overwhelming victory. His two main challengers of the Umma Party and southern Sudan People's Liberation Movement withdrew ahead of the election, accusing the government of planning to rig it.

China is a major importer of oil from Sudan and a key international ally of the government in Khartoum.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.