A possible plan by U.S. President Donald Trump to suspend a rule on “conflict minerals” could help fund armed groups and contribute to a surge in unrest in central Africa, regional states said on Wednesday.
Sources told Reuters last week that Trump planned to issue a directive targeting a Dodd-Frank rule that requires companies to disclose whether their products contain minerals from war-torn parts of Africa, including Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
A leaked draft seen by Reuters calls for the rule to be suspended for two years. Competition for Congo’s vast mineral resources has fueled two decades of conflict in its eastern provinces, including a 1998-2003 regional war that killed millions, most from hunger and disease.
The International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), a regional body comprising 12 member states including Congo, warned that repealing the provision would make it harder to ensure minerals were conflict free.
“This might ultimately lead to a generalized proliferation of terrorist groups, trans-boundary money laundry and illicit financial flows in the region,” the ICGLR said in a statement. The minerals covered by the rule – gold, tin, tantalum and tungsten – are important components in various electronics, aviation products and jewellery.
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