The European Union is seeking an emergency session of the Kimberly Process working group on monitoring following the move by Kimberley Process Chairman Mathieu Yamba of the Democratic Republic of Congo to clear Zimbabwe's Marange diamonds for sale.
British Minister of State in the Foreign Office Lord Howell said Yamba’s authorization was invalid because it violated Kimberley’s principle of consensus decision-making.
Yamba’s move disconcerted Western countries and diamond industry members who said the Kimberly Process had not agreed to allow the sale of Marange rough stones. The World Diamond Council told its members not to buy Marange diamonds.
But Yamba said he will not reverse his decision until Kimberley’s next formal meeting.
Howell said the EU will hold the meeting as a matter of urgency to ensure Harare does not export uncut diamonds under the cover of Yamba’s recent notice.
"The EU also expressed concerns about the uncertainty it creates for KP participants, the diamond industry and consumers, and urged the chair to clarify the situation as a matter of urgency," Howell said.
Howell spoke Tuesday as a delegation of members of the African Diamond Producers Association visited Marange ahead of a summit expected to cover Marange issues.
Zimbabwean Mines Minister Obert Mpofu said Harare hopes the producers will advance “an African agenda” putting producer countries in a stronger bargaining position.
"Our view is that the chair's intervention must be supported for initiating measures which restore the fundamental principles of the KP with regard to respect of equality, mutual benefits and consensus," said Mpofu. He added that Zimbabwe would continue to "enhance its Kimberley Process compliance, particularly with regard to Marange."
Diamond activist Farai Maguwu, director of the Center for Development and Research in Mutare, near the Marange alluvial diamond field, says pressure must be put be on Harare to ensure transparency and accountability in the military-controlled district.
Economist John Robertson said political pressure was exerted on the DRC Kimberley Process chair to clear Marange diamonds for export sale.