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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Zimbabwe Minister Confirms KP Diamond Sales Approval

Gift Chimanikire, Zimbabwe deputy minister of Mines and Minerals Development, has reaffirmed that the Southern African country has received Kimberley Process approval to hold two diamond sales, according to The Zimbabwe Guardian and other media outlets.

Chimanikire (pictured) responded to media reports from diamond industry media outlets quoting an unnamed Democratic Republic of Congo spokesperson saying that the KP was waiting for a response on an amendment to Zimbabwe's draft administrative decision before approving the two auctions.

Chimanikire told media outlets that the amendment has no bearing on the sales and that he has received a letter from the KP approving the sales—statements that he first made Tuesday. He reportedly added the southern African nation can sell gems from the controversial Marange diamond fields provided they were mined between 2006 and 2009.

The Kimberley Process was formed in 2002 by governments and the diamond industry to halt the sale of “conflict” or “blood” diamonds, gems used to finance conflicts. Zimbabwe faces accusations of smuggling, murder, rape and assault by its army and police at its Marange fields by rights groups, including Global Witness and Human Rights Watch. The government denies those claims.

Farai Magawu, director of the Center for Research and Development, a Zimbabwean diamond lobby group, told Bloomberg News that the income from the sales could be used to “fund repression.”

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