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Kimberley Process Meeting Still Deadlocked Over Zimbabwe Marange Diamonds


The Harare government says it has met all conditions set by the Kimberley Process and ought to be allowed to export diamonds freely instead of under close supervision - but human rights groups say many abuses continue in Marange

Kimberley Process Certification Scheme members meeting in Jerusalem remained deadlocked Wednesday on whether to remove all restrictions on Zimbabwe's s sale of diamonds from the controversial Marange field in the east.

Sources in Jerusalem said discussions were put off until Thursday when a decision is due. The Harare government says it has met all conditions set by the Kimberley Process and ought to be allowed to export diamonds freely instead of under close supervision by the watchdog. But human rights advocates say much remains to be done.

Though formal discussions were suspended, Shamiso Mtisi, coordinator of a civil society "focal point" established by the Kimberley Process, said informal talks continue with industry players trying to break a deadlock.

The Affirmative Action Group, which has two representatives in Jerusalem, released a statement urging the Kimberley Process to allow Zimbabwe unconditional diamond exports – including stockpiled diamonds. Otherwise, the group said, it will urge Harare to proceed with sales without Kimberley certification, saying there will still be plenty of buyers.

Independent journalist Gift Phiri, who has roots in the Chiadzwa communal area within the Marange diamond zone, said the Kimberley Process should let Harare freely sell its rough diamonds because otherwise an elite group will smuggle diamonds out - as human rights groups allege is now taking place - and pocket the proceeds.

But economist Rejoice Ngwenya said Zimbabwe should follow all of the recommendations made by the Kimberley Process in recent years and respect the rights of Zimbabwean citizens living in the Marange diamond zone. Human rights groups charge that forced labor continues in the military-controlled zone, and many residents face relocation.

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