KP May Recommend Embargo on CAR Diamond Exports after Rebel Takeover

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car10mThe Kimberley Process is recommending an embargo on diamond exports from the Central African Republic following the seizure by rebels of control of the country from former President François Bozizé, according to reports.

The ban could go into effect as soon as Friday, and would aim to intensify pressure on the new leaders of the poor but diamond-rich country by removing one of the government’s few remaining sources of foreign currency earnings.

Rebels overthrew the government in March, and there are concerns they may be using diamond sales to finance their activities.

“We face a situation where conflict diamonds continue to fuel rebel activities to remove elected officials from office,” said KP Chair WelileNhlepo.

“We have received a communiqué from the Kimberley Process chair highlighting the issue and requesting that members should stop their trade with the Central African Republic until there is more clarity,” said a senior official from an African diamond-producing nation in comments cited by the Wall Street Journal. Member states were being contacted individually by Nhlepo about an announcement, the official added.

Alluvially mined diamonds are one of the CAR’s main sources of revenue, accounting for around 10 percent of income in 2010, according to official figures.

The coup against Bozize started late in 2012, when rebels from different groups came together to seize the main towns in the diamond-rich northeast of the country.

The KP urged foreign diamond buyers to be vigilant regarding diamond purchases from the east of the country, but it is believed they had little effect.

The KP is asking members and diamantaires to halt activities regarding the CAR until a fact-finding mission is sent to assess the situation on the ground, the African official said.

CAR officials may be invited by the KP to make a presentation to the next inter-sessional meeting due to take place next month.

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