Accessibility links

Breaking News

Expert To Give Zimbabwe Green Light to Sell Diamonds

An official with the world diamond control body says he will recommend Zimbabwe be allowed to sell gems from its controversial Marange fields.

The Kimberley Process halted the sale of diamonds from Marange last year, after human rights groups said Zimbabwe's military was smuggling diamonds out of the country and abusing civilians who worked in the fields.

Kimberley monitor Abbey Chikane told reporters in Harare Thursday that problems seen during a previous visit to Zimbabwe have been "adequately covered."

He said Zimbabwe is "on track" to meeting Kimberley requirements, and that he will make his formal recommendation very soon.

Earlier Thursday, Zimbabwe's mines minister said the government has banned all diamond exports until issues with the Kimberley Process are sorted out.

That ban would affect two other diamond-producing areas, owned by foreign companies.

The Kimberley Process was established to block the sale of so-called blood diamonds.

The Kimberley certification program is meant to ensure that diamonds on world markets are produced without the use of violence, and that proceeds from their sales are not used to finance armed conflicts.

The organization has given authorities until June to fix the alleged abuses in the Marange fields, located in eastern Zimbabwe.

In February, President Robert Mugabe threatened to sell diamonds outside the Kimberley system if demands from monitors become too high.

Zimbabwe is not a major diamond producer, but the gems are one of the country's few sources of hard currency.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.