Pope Francis heads to Mozambique on African tour

Pope Francis arrives in Mozambique on Wednesday on the start of a tour of Africa nations that will also take in Madagascar and Mauritius.

Parts of Mozambique are now affected by violence perpetrated by Islamist militants as well as by dissident insurgents who have refused to disarm, 27 years after the end of the civil war.

The Pope is expected to address the country’s fragile peace process and the devastation caused by recent cyclones earlier this year among other issues.

He is the first pontiff to visit the country in more than 30 years and will remain in the capital, Maputo.

Some residents of Beira are disappointed that he will not be visiting the city most affected by Cyclone Idai, the AFP news agency reports.

“I was hoping the Pope would come and walk on Beira’s soil,” 45-year-old Maria da Paz is quoted as saying.

But in a video message, the Pontiff said his heart reached out to embrace all the people of Mozambique, even though he was “unable to go beyond the capital”.

The three-day tour comes a month after the government signed a historic peace treaty with the former rebel group Renamo, who is now the main opposition party.

The government expects to spend about $325,000 (£266,000) on the Pope’s visit, according to Foreign Minister Jose Pacheco.

It will be his fourth visit to the continent since he became the head of the Catholic Church in 2013, compared to the two his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, made during his eight-year papacy.

Source: BBC

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