Kimberley Blogging: Zimbabwe Gets Hard-Line

The opening day of the Kimberley Process plenary in Jerusalem saw some drama …

While the meeting was closed to the press, Zimbabwe’s fiery minister of mines Obert Mpofu gave what was described a stunning speech. In it, he disputed the report on Marange from the Working Group of Monitoring (a consenus document, with input from people sympathetic to the country’s position), and threatened to sell diamonds on the world market regardless of what the KP decides. A member of the Zimbabwe delegation just told me that the country will not agree to any more review missions.  Obviously, the United States and NGOs will not accept this. We may be heading for the kind of showdown we saw this summer in Tel Aviv.

To some veteran Zim watchers, Mpofu’s speech was simply “posturing” or the “beginning of a negotiating position.” Still, it unsettled many attendees, and it seems to have made an already difficult situation that much worse.

UPDATE: They will be popping No-Doze here in Jerusalem. When asked if he sees negotiations with Zimbabwe going through the night again, as they did this summer in Tel Aviv (without success), KP chairman Boaz Hirsch wearily says, “Yes, unfortunately.”

JCK News Director