RUSSIA announced a proposal to end to an international ban on ‘blood’ diamonds exported from the Central African Republic (CAR).
The CAR is in the midst of a civil war between Christian anti-balaka militias and Muslim Seleka rebels exacerbated by a coup against long-time leader Francois Bozize in 2013.
According to Russian Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseev, the central African nation should be given a guideline stating what it must do to get the suspension of diamond sales lifted.
Moiseev said that illegally traded diamonds ought to move to the legal marketplace and earn an income for people and taxes for the state.
CAR Communications Minister Ange-Maxime Kazagui said the government agreed with Russia’s proposal to have the ban lifted, according to a report by Bloomberg.
The Russian minister, who spoke during an interview in Moscow, argued that the situation in the CAR was not improving and such a move could not be delayed further.
Until May 2013, the Central African Republic was a major exporter of diamonds when the Kimberley Process placed an embargo on exports of its rough diamonds.
Registered sales of the gemstones dropped from 300,000 carats before the ban to 39,000 carats annually.
However, the ban was partially lifted in 2016 following the initiation of state ‘green zones’ where the stones are mined.
The Kimberley Process brings together administrations, civil societies, and industry in stemming the flow of conflict diamonds – ‘rough diamonds used to finance wars against governments’ – globally.
Russia is expected to take over the leadership of the Kimberley Process in 2020 subject to ratification from participants.
Russia and the Central African Republic have recently set up commercial and military connections despite opposition from the United States and Europe, particularly France.