Johnson-Sirleaf Repeats Call to End Diamond Sanctions

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(Rapaport…June 30, 2006) During a three-day diamonds for development event hosted by Liberia’s ministry of mines and energy, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf said her country does not deserve United Nations imposed diamond sanctions.

President Sirleaf said the country is addressing all concerns related to diamond sanctions and added that both Liberia and Sierra Leone have made great strides in conflict-free diamond development initiatives.

The executive secretary of the Mano River Union, Aliou Diallo, the secretary general of International Alert, Dan Smith, and a representative of United Nations Mission in Liberia spoke at the conference. reports that those speakers challenged Liberia to adopt measures to make the diamond industry an integral part of Liberia’s economy.

Meanwhile in New York, the United Nations lifted Liberia sanctions on timber on June 20, however diamond sanctions were extended. Secretary general Kofi Annan reappointed the panel of experts on June 29 who assess the impact of diamond sanctions on Liberia.

Annan designated Arthur Blundell of Canada to serve as the chairman of the panel, which includes four other expert members from France, India, Sierra Leone, and the United Kingdom, which is in effect through December 21, 2006.

The Security Council first imposed wide-ranging sanctions on Liberia in May 2001 after receiving reports that the West African country’s natural resources were fuelling conflict in the region.

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