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Planes Leaving CAR With Gold Described to Chile In 1st CAR Sanctions Meeting

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, February 6 -- Small planes land in the Central African Republic and take out gold and diamonds, CAR's ambassador told the UN Security Council in a closed-door meeting on February 6. He asked, where do these planes come from? Not from the Central African Republic.

  Like the next speaker, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he was responding to a statement by Security Council member Chile about the exploitation of natural resources. In the Council's most recent CAR resolution, sanctions are imposed on individuals

"providing support for armed groups or criminal networks through the illicit exploitation of natural resources, including diamonds and wildlife and wildlife products, in the CAR."

  The CAR sanctions committee chairperson, Lithuania's Raimonda Murmokaite, convened this first meeting and invited neighboring countries to speak. This is not the usual practice: Sudan, for example, is usually confined to hanging about outside their sanctions committee meeting hoping to get briefed by an ally.

(One wonder what Lithuania, as a member of the ACT reform group, thinks of this. Inner City Press on February 5 asked Ambassador Murmokaite as Security Council president for February if she thinks the next Sudan sanctions report will get released, or will other's objections be given more weight than were Rwanda's on the DRC report?)

  But of the Council members' interventions, ranging from Australia about long porous borders to a strangely short and less than memorable French contribution to the US requesting more specifics on how the resolution's arms embargo is being enforced, it was Chile's on natural resources which drew these two responses. Surprise at this was expressed afterward -- raising the stakes or expectations for Chile's turn as president of the Council.

  Ambassador Murmokaite said she would put a press release about the meeting on the Committee's web site, after a brief silence procedure; she will be briefing the full Council on February 20. But by then, what will be happening in the Central African Republic?

  Will there have been any justice for what High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay says was France putting Muslim communities at risk of attacks by anti-Balaka by first disarming the ex Seleka? For the lynching and corpses desecration committee by CAR Army members yesterday, moments after new president Catherine Samba-Panza spoke to them? How will or should sanctions apply to each of these? Watch this site.


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