A decision by the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme on whether to grant Zimbabwe freer rein in marketing diamonds from the Marange alluvial field in the east of the country has been further delayed with the extension of a deadline to vote on key amendments.
Kimberley members have until Monday to vote on amendments to an agreement reached late last year in Jerusalem intended to to forge a consensus on the question of whether the country should be allowed to freely export diamonds from the Marange field.
Sources said the voting deadline was extended to give members more time to review changes in the agreement to alter the monitoring scheme in Marange.
Human rights activists have charged that Marange diamonds are tainted by human rights violations in the military-controlled zone including killings and forced labor. There have also been allegations of massive diversion and smuggling of Marange diamonds.
Reached by VOA, incoming Kimberley Chairman Mathieu Yamba of the Democratic Republic of Congo referred questions to the group's secretary, who refused to comment on the Marange diamonds issue until all members have voted on the amendment.
Research Director Alan Martin of Partnership Africa Canada, a non-governmental member of the Kimberley Process, said an agreement on the amendment could yield the consensus on development of the Marange resource that many have been waiting for.
The issue has been clouded by assertions by Deputy Mines Minister Gift Chimanikire that the Kimberley Process has approved two auctions of Marange diamonds in 2011. Sources close to the organization said the organization made no such decision.