By Michelle Graff
Segula, Ivory Coast---United Nations experts report that a senior Ivory Coast army officer might be using profits from diamond sales to buy arms, violating the country’s longstanding embargo just as it was getting close to returning to the diamond trade.

Reuters reported Tuesday that U.N. experts who are charged with monitoring compliance in the country said in a report that diamonds are being exported from the Ivory Coast in violation of the ban imposed by the U.N. in 2005.

According to Reuters, the man identified as the principal diamond buyer described to U.N. experts how he circumvented the Kimberley Process by sending rough diamonds to Guinea and Liberia to obtain certificates of origin there.

There is “strong evidence” the money from the sale of these diamonds was then used to support the country’s Republican Guard and possibly to purchase arms for the group.

A spokesperson with the Ivorian government declined comment to Reuters, stating that he was unaware of the content of the U.N. report.

The Ivory Coast is the only country in the world with a U.N.-imposed ban on its diamond trade.

RELATED CONTENT: KP recognizes that Cote d’Ivoire is compliant

However, after the country was deemed compliant by members of the Kimberley Process at its plenary meeting in November, leaders of the West African country have been pressing the U.N. Security Council to lift the embargo, which is the sole hurdle preventing the country from returning to the diamond trade.

Their efforts were dealt a blow with the emergence of the U.N. report this week.

RELATED CONTENT: Ivory Coast to ‘demand’ UN lift diamond ban

KP officials could not immediately be reached for comment on the report Thursday.

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