‘Cameroon Not Dealing in Conflict Diamonds’

Yaoundé: Cameroon has dismissed reports that it is trading in “conflict diamonds” from the troubled Central African Republic (CAR).

Partnership Africa Canada recently claimed in a report that proceeds from the illicit diamond trade was being used to partially finance an almost three-year conflict.

“Cameroon is not a transit point for Central African rebel diamonds. And if you want to efficiently fight this traffic, help the Central African government to take full control of their country!”, Governor of the Eastern Region Grégoire Mvongo was quoted by Investir au Cameroun as saying to the Kimberly Process evaluation mission in Cameroon.

The mission led by Congolese Maurice Miema, had been visiting the Eastern Cameroon mining region since 7 December 2016.

The KP experts were said to have assessed the risks in seeing cross-border exchanges between CAR and Cameroon become a channel to facilitate the traffic of blood diamonds coming from the Central African Republic.

They also carried out inspection missions in the towns of Boumbé Bakari, Boumbé Château, Gbiti and Roma, well-known for being diamond mining sites. The objective of these site visits was to assess the security of the trading systems, reports Investir au Cameroun.

An internecine conflict broke out in CAR in 2013 when Muslim Seleka rebels seized power, causing retaliations by “anti-balaka” Christian militias. Diamonds were used to fund operations of the warring groups, a move that forced the Kimberley Process to ban the export of diamonds from the landlocked country. However, the diamond watchdog partially lifted the ban this year.

Partnership Africa Canada urged the Kimberley Process to place Cameroon under special measures, which would require a tightening of internal controls within a three-month period.