Congo Democratic Republic new 500-franc variety/error confirmed

500 francs (US$1.10), 04.01.2002. Like P96, but lacking the three diamonds to the left of the watermark area on the front (top image). Both notes bear the imprint of GIESECKE & DEVRIENT MUNICH (the imprint is very faint, printed at lower right on back).

I’m not sure if this is an error note or an intentional new variety. On the “normal” note (bottom image), the diamonds appear to be printed as part of the rest of the design, so it’s not as if the underprinting or an overprinting was omitted by mistake. It may be that the diamonds were removed to make the design of the note conform to the other denominations in this family, none of which have any similar elements in the same location. Does anyone else have examples of this note to report?

Courtesy of Andrew Roberts.