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Johannesburg--Rebel violence in the Central African Republic has prompted the Kimberley Process (KP) to temporarily suspend the nation, meaning that the industry needs to avoid trading in rough diamonds from the country until further notice.

According to a letter dated May 23 from KP Chair Welile Nhlepo to members of the process, the temporary suspension comes as a result of a vote by KP members.

The suspension will remain in effect until the KP’s Working Group on Monitoring, and other working bodies, can review the situation in the Central African Republic at the upcoming intersessional meeting in Kimberley, South Africa, the letter states. The intersessional is scheduled for June 4 to 7.

Reports about a possible KP embargo on diamonds from the Central African Republic first began surfacing in May after rebels seized control of the country from former President François Bozizé. The Central African Republic is located directly north of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, bordering the Congo and Cameroon on the west, and Sudan and South Sudan on the east.

Rebels seized the government in March and reports indicate they are using the sales of diamonds to finance their activities. Alluvial diamond mining is one of the country’s main sources of revenue.

On Tuesday, World Diamond Council President Eli Izhakoff expressed his support for the suspension of the Central African Republic.

“This is a tough but appropriate measure that will defend both the integrity of the diamond pipeline and, also, ultimately the well-being of the people of the Central African Republic,” he said. “I call on all members of the industry to be vigilant and take all necessary measures to ensure that, until further notice from the KP, no rough diamonds from the CAR are handled and or traded.”
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