(Rapaport…January 24, 2003) Central African Republic (CAR) Mines and Energy Minister Andre Nalke Dorogo has denied that his country is involved in the conflict diamond trade, refuting a recent report by the nongovernmental organization (NGO) Partnership Africa Canada (PAC), which found a “strong likelihood” that conflict diamonds are being smuggled through the Central African Republic (CAR).
“We have never, ever been in contact with the Mouvement de Liberation du Congo (MLC) diamond dealers,” Dorogo said in a news conference in Bangui, the CAR capital. “If they fly over the CAR with their planes loaded with diamonds, do you expect me to hail them and seize their freight from my office?”
“Certainly some miners sell their diamonds in Bangui, about 500km from their small-scale diamond production centers in the DRC,” commented Jean-Pierre Bemba, head of the MLC. “They are free to sell them to whomever they wish in the CAR.”
The PAC report said that although the CAR has a good system for tracking diamonds, it is not always used, making the country “an attractive channel for diamond smugglers from other countries.”
Diamonds are the CAR government’s second-greatest income earner.