Diamonds: Zim gets reprieve

2009-11-06 12:18

Windhoek - A global scheme to ban trade in conflict diamonds on Thursday adopted a "work plan" for Zimbabwe, despite calls for the country to be suspended over rights abuses in its gem fields.

"Zimbabwe is not suspended as was proposed, a joint work plan was adopted by this plenary meeting," said outgoing chair of the Kimberley Process (KP) and Namibian deputy mining minister Bernard Esau late Thursday.

A KP review mission in July recommended a six-month suspension of Zimbabwe over human rights abuses alleged by the army against civilians in the eastern Marange diamond fields.

Zimbabwe had "until June 2010 to implement the work plan," said Esau, who visited the area in September, without giving further details on what the plan entailed.

"It was felt that we should give Zimbabwe the opportunity to address issues of compliance to remove like removing the military from the Marange diamond fields," he said.

Implementation of the work plan

"If Zimbabwe is not compliant at the next review meeting in June 2010, the KP will have to think of other measures, but let us give them a chance."

In a joint communique issued at the end of the four-day meeting, the 37 participating members which attended welcomed "Zimbabwe's commitment to urgently start implementation of the joint work plan."

The communique called on KP participants to ensure compliance with the system's certification scheme in Zimbabwe and to apply vigilance measures to contain illicit trade of Marange diamonds.

"The work plan was adopted by all parties attending the plenary, including Zimbabwe," Esau told reporters.

Civil society groups which are part of the process had demanded the suspension of Zimbabwe's international diamond trade.