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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Update: KP Fails to Approve Zimbabwe Diamond Sales, Country Official Defiant, Says it will Sell them Anyway

Photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, AP

After four days of closed-door meetings, officials representing the Kimberley Process have failed to reach an agreement on whether Zimbabwe will be able to sell diamonds through the organization’s certification scheme.

“An agreement has not yet been finalized,” Boaz Hirsch, KP chairman reportedly told a news conference Thursday in Jerusalem, where the KP plenary meeting was held. “We are still working with Zimbabwe and other countries.”

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's mines and mining development minister, Obwet Moses Mpofu, said the country would sell diamonds "immediately" from Marange.

“Zimbabwe will sell diamonds without any conditions,” he reportedly said. “There is no opposition to that.”

Zimbabwe wants to export diamonds from its controversial Marange field, where human rights groups allege it is the scene of forced labor, torture, beatings and harassment by government troops. The southern African country denies all allegations.

The African nation has threatened to flood the world market with underpriced diamonds if it is not allowed to export, The Associated Press reports.

The Kimberley Process is charged with preventing trade in “blood” or “conflict” diamonds, the term used for diamonds mined in a war zone and sold to finance an insurgency, invading army's war efforts, or a warlord's activity.

Foreign and domestic human-rights organizations have criticized Zimbabwe for violence against civilians in the Marange diamond fields of eastern Zimbabwe. The criticism led to investigations by the Kimberley Process over the past year. Zimbabwe was allowed to hold two diamond sales in August and September under the watch of the KP.

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