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American diamond official urged to resign

VICTORIA FALLS, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe’s diamond conference was rocked by controversy Tuesday over the Kimberley Process, the world diamond trade regulatory body, whose chairwoman was publicly asked to resign because she is American.

Gillian Milovanovic, the American chairwoman of the Kimberley Process, came under a barrage of criticism from African delegates at the Zimbabwe Diamond Conference for allegedly not doing enough to persuade the US government to lift trade restrictions on Zimbabwe’s state-owned diamond mining companies.

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South Africa’s Kimberley Process monitor, Abbey Chikane, accused Milovanovic of having a conflict of interest because she is American. Chikane alleged Milovanovic has failed to follow African delegates’ wishes to promote the trade of diamonds dug up from Zimbabwe’s notorious Marange field in Europe and the United States.

The state-run Zimbabwe Mining Development Company and Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe are on the US sanctions list, because of evidence of the Mugabe government’s state violence and human rights violations.

‘‘There is a danger of having a chairmanship that will fragment the organization because you are conflicted . . . you are then supposed to recuse yourself,’’ Chikane said to Milovanovic in front of the conference.

‘‘When South Africa takes over the chair next year, we will solve these issues,’’ said Chikane, who is chairman of the South African Diamond Board.

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