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Zimbabwe boycotts new round of KP talks
23/11/2010 00:00:00
by Business Reporter
 
Under fire ... KP chairman Boaz Hirsch
 
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ZIMBABWE is boycotting a meeting of the Kimberley Process’ Working Group on Monitoring which gets underway in Brussels on Tuesday.

The meeting, called to broker a resolution on Zimbabwe’s exports of diamonds mined at Marange, follows a KP plenary earlier this month which nearly reached an agreement after direct consultations between the United States and Zimbabwe.

The Agreement was widely accepted but by KP members but was blocked by Canada and Australia. The meetings ended with a decision to continue negotiations until a unanimous agreement is reached.

Mines Minister Obert Mpofu, in a letter addressed to the KP chairman, said that he and his team “are not available to attend the meetings of the WGM for the reasons aforementioned.”

Mpofu reminds Boaz Hirsch that he requested three days to conclude consultations and “at the expiration of the three days, you did not revert to Zimbabwe.”

Mpofu accused Hirsch of breaching his “undertaking” as KP chairman, “and we feel that you have not dealt with us honourably and with integrity,” he wrote.

“You have, instead, yielded to political schemes disingenuously devised by NGOs and the Participants opposed to our export of diamonds. The ban is, therefore, invalid for the aforementioned reasons,” Mpofu concludes.

The WGM meeting will be attended by the United States, Canada, South Africa, Israel, the European Union, the World Diamond Council and two anti-Zimbabwe NGOs -- Global Witness and PAC.

African diamond producers last Friday criticised the KP, tasked with stopping the flow of “conflict diamonds”, for failing to clear Zimbabwe to resume diamond exports from Marange where Zimbabwe’s opponents allege human rights abuses.

"The motives behind the attempt to block Zimbabwean diamonds are sinister," said African Diamond Producers Association executive secretary Edgar de Carvalho.

"Zimbabwe cannot be held to ransom just because a minority of countries within the KP (Kimberley Process) continue to block consensus deliberately," he said in a statement.

The Kimberley Process barred the sale of Marange diamonds in November 2009 following reports of human rights abuses by the army at the mine.

Abbey Chikane, a monitor appointed by the watchdog, in July partially lifted the ban, saying Zimbabwe had ceased abuses by the military, which seized control of the Marange fields in late 2008 and forced out tens of thousands of small-scale miners.



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Zimbabwe held its first diamond sale in August.


 
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