August 12, 2004
Republic of Congo Seeking Kimberley Reinstatement
The Republic of Congo was stripped of its membership in the Kimberley Process last month, due to reported diamond smuggling abuses. Republic of Congo's president, Sassou Nguesso, has since scrambled to address his country's failure to implement monitoring controls, with the goal of having his country reinstated, reports Business Day of Johannesburg.
Republic of Congo's exports allegedly include vast quantities of goods smuggled into its borders from neighboring countries. Estimates are that the country exports 90 times more than what it is actually able to produce. Former chairman of the Kimberley Process, Abbey Chikane of South Africa, whose report led to the decision to strip the Republic of Congo's KP credentials, says it is now in the best interests of the Kimberley Process that financially stronger KP members help the Republic of Congo get back on its feet.
"They need a lot of assistance [setting up the controls and monitoring mechanisms] from countries which have resources," he said. He noted that South Africa, the U.S. and Russia should help make this happen. Chikane urged assistance should come from the South African state and private sectors. The Republic of Congo, however, has not yet requested foreign assistance. "It is up to the Republic of Congo to call for assistance through the Kimberley Process; we won't interfere unless invited," Chikane said.
While Nguesso has not commented on Chikane's suggestions, the Republic of Congo's leader noted that he had taken measures with the aim of the reintegration of his country in the Kimberley Process.
by Robert Weldon, G.G.