As the UN Security Council voted Monday to continue its sanctions on Cote d’Ivoire, the BBC reports that those sanctions continue to be broken.
In a unanimous vote, the council prolonged the 12-month blockade against guns and arms entering the country and diamonds leaving. Council members also renewed travel bans even though Cote d’Ivoire’s president called for those bans to be lifted against three people from the southern part of the country: Charles Goudé Ble, Eugène Djue and Kouakou Fofie.
The BBC reports that a leaked United Nations Group of Experts monitoring report claims the rebels of northern Cote d’Ivoire continue to smuggle diamonds through Mali.
The diamonds from Cote d’Ivoire end up in Sikasso, a Malian town about 100 km north of the Ivorian border, where allegedly they are shipped to Bamako.
"Often you find diamonds in transit here, which have come from Seguela, passing through to Mali's capital. When they get to Bamako there are certain businessmen there who send them to western countries," an unidentified man told BBC.
However, the reporter could not find any evidence of diamond smuggling. Nor had any of the people she spoke to seen a diamond.
In Sept. 2005, Global Witness found that northern rebels of Cote d’Ivoire were smuggling diamonds through Mali and Guinea to fund their war effort against the south. This was backed up by a report from the UN Panel of Experts, who pointed out both sides of the conflict were also using cocoa to purchase military equipment. (Here is a story on Global Witness’s work in Cote d’Ivoire.)
The UN Security Council first began its bans on Cote d’Ivoire in 2005. The Council Monday declared they will review the sanctions after all parties have fully implemented the so-called Ouagadougou peace agreement and holding free and fair elections.
Earlier last month, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon worried about the pace of the peace plan.