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NGOs Boycott Kimberley Process Plenary in Kinshasa, DRC, in Protest

Kimberley members were expected to discuss the unilateral decision earlier this year by current Kimberley Process Chairman Mathieu Yamba allowing the sale of Marange diamonds without Kimberley oversight

International and Zimbabwean non-governmental organizations boycotted a plenary session of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme that opened Monday in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, in protest of the watchdog organization’s failure to deal decisively with human rights issues in Zimbabwe’s Marange diamond field.

Kimberley members were expected to discuss the Marange field and a unilateral decision issued earlier this year by Mathieu Yamba, DRC Mines Minister and current Kimberley chairman, allowing the sale of Marange diamonds without Kimberley oversight.

Zimbabwean Mines Minister Obert Mpofu headed Harare's delegation with the ZANU-PF-linked Federation of Non-Governmental Organizations in tow.

Federation President Goodson Nguni told state media that his group intends to fight for the right of Zimbabweans to “enjoy their God-given resources.”

World Federation of Diamond Bourses President Avi Paz said members should use the meeting to get the Kimberley Process back on track. "The KPCS is regulatory system to assure that the diamond trade and industry can operate confidently in a market free from so-called 'conflict diamonds'," Paz said in a statement issued by his group.

He said that the WFDB had been an “active supporter” of the Kimberley Process and that its members were strongly committed to enforcing the KPCS system and had never hesitated “to remove from our ranks those traders who may have strayed.”

Research Director Allan Martin of Partnership Africa Canada said he does not expect the Kinshasa Kimberley plenary to yield much in the way of substance.

Regional Coordinator Dewa Mavhinga of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said that unless Kimberley takes a firm stance on Marange it will continue to implode.

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