Vatican says pope will visit 3 African nations in September

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VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis will visit the African countries of Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius in early September, the Vatican announced on Wednesday.

The Vatican said that during the Sept. 4-10 visit Francis will visit the capitals: Maputo in Mozambique, Antananarivo in Madagascar and Port Louis in Mauritius.

In a national address, Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi said his country invited Francis last year and that the pontiff accepted “in principle, as long as his health allowed.”

This will be the second papal visit to the southern African nation since John Paul II visited 30 years ago, helping the country on a path to peace and reconciliation, Nyusi said.

A civil war raged in Mozambique from 1977 to 1992.

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Now the country is trying to recover from a devastating cyclone earlier this month that the president has said may have killed as many as 1,000 people. Authorities on Wednesday announced the first confirmed cases of cholera, complicating response efforts for nearly 2 million people that the United Nations says are in urgent need of aid.

“The pope’s visit to our country encourages us to proceed with determination to overcome our everyday problems,” Nyusi said. “We hope this visit acts as a moment of inspiration and encouragement in the Mozambicans’ struggle to … rebuild a prosperous, united and peaceful nation.”

The pope’s visit comes shortly before Mozambique holds general elections in October.

The Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar is one of the world’s poorest countries, according to the World Bank, with more than two-thirds of its 25 million people living in extreme poverty.

The tiny Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius is one of Africa’s richest countries based on per capita income, and it is seen as one of the continent’s most stable nations.

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