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Uganda To Be Watched Over 'Blood' Diamonds

The Monitor (Kampala)
December 21, 2000

by Julius Mucunguzi &Agencies

A panel of international experts told the UN Security Council in a report yesterday that Uganda should be put under a watch list in her diamond trade.

Six other countries were recommended for a watch list: The Central African Republic, Ghana, Namibia, the Republic of Congo, Mali and Zambia. "Invoices from these countries need to be thoroughly checked," the report says.

The panel wants increased scrutiny of diamond exports from the above countries.

Democratic Republic of Congo President Laurent Kabila raised several accusations on Uganda that she (Uganda) is involved in the looting of his country's resources, including diamonds. The complaints reached the UN, which in turn sent a team of experts some months ago to investigate.

State minister for Regional Cooperation Amama Mbabazi has always denied Kabila's claims. There is no known diamond mines in Uganda.

The report is due to be published in New York today after being scrutinised in the UN security council, which will meet again next month to discuss implementation.

The report said that the United Nations is finally to mount an onslaught on the trade in b'lood' diamonds from Africa.

The uncompromising report recommends a series of punitive measures against west African countries linked to the civil war in Sierra Leone and other war torn countries.

The 58-page report also points a finger of blame at Switzerland, a transit point for almost half the rough diamonds entering Britain. Switzerland is listed as 'country of origin', even though it produces no diamonds of its own.

The panel singles out Charles Taylor, the president of Liberia, saying he is actively involved in fuelling the violence in Sierra Leone, and many businessmen close to his inner circle operate on an international scale, sourcing their weaponry mainly in eastern Europe.

It adds: "In short, Liberia is actively breaking (UN) security council embargoes regarding weapons imports into its own territory and into Sierra Leone. It is being actively assisted by Burkina Faso. It is being tacitly assisted by all the countries allowing weapons to pass through or over their territory without question, and by those countries that provide a base for the aircraft used in such operations."