Central African Republic Diamonds in Search of Legitimacy

29/05/2015 11:26

While peace gradually returns to the CAR, the struggle for the control of the mines has intensified in the provinces along familiar sectarian lines between the Muslim Seleka (which seized power in 2013 only to lose it and regress into indiscriminate violence) and the Christian anti-balaka militias. With both groups fighting to control the mines, mining is difficult to monitor and regulate, and is largely dominated by smuggling while the country is still excluded from the Kimberley Process, the international certification scheme for rough diamonds. The CAR is excluded from the Kimberley process since May 2013: therefore, no diamonds can get out of the territory - least not legally, as channels for smuggling to Cameroon, DRC, Sudan and Chad are well established. But UN forces and French Sangaris deployed in the country are trying to secure the pockets where there are armed groups around some mines.

"At issue is the lifting of international sanctions and the reintegration of the country in the KP," says François Ngbokoto, official of the Department of Mines and coordinator of the roadmap for the lifting of the sanction. "Diamonds are vital for local economies. They generate work directly, but also activity in other sectors."  The CAR hopes to benefit at the next KP meeting in June in Luanda (Angola) from a lifting of the embargo in the regions controlled by the administration. The mining towns of Berberati and Nola, which are located in the pacified zones of the south-west, could thus be reintegrated in the process. Boda (south-west) could follow. The North and the East, and particularly the famous mine of Bria, will wait to be secured. "We have the green zones, reds and oranges", explains Mr. Ngbokoto. "The priority is that we can obtain the right to export diamonds from these green areas."