* Kimberley Process certification scheme suspended CAR in
* Government says it has complied with conditions for
* Kimberley Process members say far from compliant
By Joe Penney
BANGUI, Nov 29 Central African Republic has
called for a ban on its diamond exports to be lifted, saying it
needed the tax revenue from sales to revive its crisis-crippled
The Kimberley Process, a global watchdog set up to stop the
trade in "blood diamonds", announced a suspension of certified
diamond trading with the country in May, two months after a
coalition of mainly Muslim Seleka rebels ousted President
"Diamonds have nothing to do with the situation in Central
African Republic," said Herbert Goyan Djono-Ahaba, mines
minister in a transitional government meant to lead the country
to fresh elections.
"Our country was suspended based on risks but there was no
proof that diamonds financed the war," he told Reuters in an
interview on Thursday.
Diamonds are an important source of revenue for the
government in Bangui and the ban makes interim president Michel
Djotodia's task of staging polls even more daunting.
Around one tenth of Central African Republic's population of
4.5 million has fled the increasingly sectarian violence.
World powers are scrambling to quell the trouble, fearing
tit-for-tat killings could escalate into war between the
Christian majority and Muslims, who represent around 15 percent
of the population.
Djono-Ahaba said the country has fulfilled the requirements
to be reinstated but claimed Kimberley Process experts had
declined to visit to verify the government's efforts.
But Partnership Africa Canada (PAC), a civil society member
of the Kimberly Process, said the government is far from having
the ban lifted.
PAC's research director Alan Martin said the verification
mission was unable to go to the country because the government
could not guarantee its safety.
"Instability exists in both eastern and western diamond
mining areas. It is also evident that the government is not in
control of the diamond fields," Martin said.
France is preparing to boost its military presence to around
1,000 soldiers to be followed by the deployment of a
3,600-strong African Union peacekeeping force. The United
Nations is also examining the possibility of establishing a
"Blood diamonds", stones used to fund insurgencies, became a
global issue in the 1990s during a succession of African
conflicts in which their trade financed arms purchases and
resulted in human rights abuses.
A public outcry led to the establishment in 2002 of the
Kimberley Process, a government, industry and civil society
scheme aimed at certifying stones and preventing conflict
diamonds from entering the international market.
($1 = 482.3390 CFA francs)
(Additional reporting by Emmanuel Braun; Writing by Joe Bavier;
Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and David Evans)