Central African Republic has called for a ban on its diamond exports to be lifted, saying it needs the tax revenue from sales to revive its crisis-crippled economy.
The Kimberley Process, a global watchdog
set up to stop the trade in "blood diamonds", announced a suspension of
certified diamond trading with the country in May, two months after a
coalition of mainly Muslim Seleka rebels ousted President Francois
"Diamonds have nothing to do with the situation in Central
African Republic," said Herbert Goyan Djono-Ahaba, mines minister in a
transitional government meant to lead the country to fresh elections.
country was suspended based on risks but there was no proof that
diamonds financed the war," he said in an interview on Thursday.
are an important source of revenue for the government in Bangui and the
ban makes interim president Michel Djotodia’s task of staging polls
even more daunting.
About 10% of Central African Republic’s population of 4.5-million has fled the increasingly sectarian violence.
powers are scrambling to quell the trouble, fearing tit-for-tat
killings could escalate into war between the Christian majority and
Muslims, who represent about 15% of the population.
said the country had fulfilled the requirements to be reinstated but
claimed Kimberley Process experts had declined to visit to verify the
But Partnership Africa Canada (PAC), a civil
society member of the Kimberly Process, said the government was far
from having the ban lifted.
PAC research director Alan Martin said
the verification mission was unable to go to the country because the
government could not guarantee its safety.
"Instability exists in
both eastern and western diamond mining areas. It is also evident that
the government is not in control of the diamond fields," Mr Martin said.
is preparing to boost its military presence to about 1,000 soldiers to
be followed by the deployment of a 3,600-strong African Union
peacekeeping force. The United Nations is also examining the possibility
of establishing a peacekeeping mission.
"Blood diamonds", stones
used to fund insurgencies, became a global issue in the 1990s during a
succession of African conflicts in which their trade financed arms
purchases and resulted in human rights abuses.
A public outcry led
to the establishment in 2002 of the Kimberley Process, a government,
industry and civil society scheme aimed at certifying stones and
preventing conflict diamonds from entering the international market.