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Zimbabwe troops 'leaving Marange diamond field'

19 November 09 12:31 GMT

Zimbabwe say it is pulling soldiers out of a diamond field in the country's east, after global diamond trade chiefs alleged abuses were taking place there.

Mines Minister Obert Mpofu told state-run media Zimbabwe had complied with 90% of demands made by trade watchdog the Kimberley Process group this month.

Activists had wanted the group to suspend Zimbabwe, saying troops had killed 200 people at the Marange field.

But instead it urged Zimbabwe to reform, giving a June 2010 deadline.

The Herald newspaper quoted Mr Mpofu as saying the government had achieved a lot in its attempts to comply with the Kimberley Process, which regulates trade in so-called blood diamonds

"As is evident at these fields, there are no army officers or police details," he said.

Compromise

Activists accuse the soldiers of carrying out widespread atrocities at the Marange field, and say the profits from the stones go to President Robert Mugabe and his cronies.

The government denies all the allegations.

The 70-member Kimberley Process group agreed a compromise diamond deal at a meeting in Namibia earlier this month.

Although its own investigators found evidence of killings and forced evictions at the Marange field, the Kimberley panel stopped short of kicking Zimbabwe out.

Instead it adopted a plan - proposed by Zimbabwe itself - which called for an independent inspector to monitor diamonds leaving the controversial fields.

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