By; Jjunju Francis
04th September 2019
Pope Francis arrives in Mozambique at the start of a three-nation tour of Indian Ocean African countries hard hit by poverty, conflict and natural disaster.
He is expected to be welcomed by tens of thousands during his visit, which will culminate with a mass on Friday at the giant Zimpeto stadium in the seaside capital Maputo.
Pope John Paul II was the last pontiff to visit Mozambique in 1988.
In a video message recorded ahead of the trip, Pope Francis stressed the need for “fraternal reconciliation in Mozambique and throughout Africa, which is the only hope for a solid and lasting peace”.
The pope is expected to address the country’s fragile peace process, the devastation caused by two back-to-back cyclones early this year, and the upcoming general election.
The three-day tour comes a month after the Mozambique government signed a historic peace treaty with the former rebel group Renamo, which is now the main opposition party.
The pope may also address the issue of extremism in northern Mozambique where jihadist attacks have claimed more than 300 lives over two years.
The pope will also visit the large Indian Ocean island of Madagascar on September 6th and its much smaller neighbour Mauritius for only 8 hours – both situated off the eastern coast of Africa.
Mozambique has spent 300,000 Euros ($330 000) for the trip, according to Foreign Minister Jose Pacheco, including repairs to Maputo’s cathedral and city roads.