A Sierra Leonean pastor found the largest diamond in the last four decades in this country and turned it over to the government, hoping it would help boost development in this impoverished West African nation.
Pastor Emmanuel Momoh found the 706-carat alluvial diamond in Yakadu village, east of the country - where these precious stones abound - and was presented to President Ernest Bai Koroma on Wednesday, presidential spokesman Abdulai Bayraytay said.
The gem, slightly smaller than a hockey puck, is the second largest diamond found in the country. In 1972, a group of miners encountered the 968.9-carat Star of Sierra Leone, which sold for about 2.5 million dollars.
Momoh told The Associated Press that he gave the diamond because he was moved by development work in the Kono district where he was found. He mentioned the construction of roads and improvements in electricity service after almost 30 years of blackouts.
"I think the government can do more, especially in a time when the country faces some economic challenges," he said.
The abundance of diamonds in Sierra Leone sparked a civil war that ended in 2002. Despite this natural heritage, the country remains one of the poorest in the world.
So far it is unknown how the pastor encountered the diamond.
The president expressed his appreciation that there was no attempt to smuggle the gem out of the country, and encouraged others to follow the example of the pastor. He promised that the diamond will be auctioned to the highest bidder and that the revenue for the owner and the government will be evenly distributed.
"A gift from God, and it would be terrible if someone tries to do something criminal with him," said the president.
Spokesman Bayraytay said that the value of the precious stone, which was placed in the Bank of Sierra Leone, has not yet been calculated.
The president has given "clear instructions to the Ministry of Mines that valuation, sale and distribution of profits should be done in the most transparent manner," he added.This website contains opinionated posts. View at your own discretion.
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