Acclaimed by the crowd on his arrival in Mozambique Wednesday, September 4, Pope Francis will meet Thursday morning the political and civil forces of the country. The pontiff seeks to encourage them to consolidate a still fresh peace agreement.

The pope's visit to the former majority-Christian Portuguese colony in south-east Africa comes one month after the signing of a historic peace treaty between the Maputo government and Renamo rebellion became the main opposition party in Mozambique. A civil war had ended 27 years ago, but Renamo had never disarmed.

In a Portuguese-language video message to Mozambicans, the leader of the world's 1.3 billion Catholics has already called for strengthening "fraternal reconciliation in Mozambique and Africa, the only hope for a strong and lasting peace".

Meeting with the President

He begins his day Thursday with a private meeting with President Filipe Nyusi, who wants to run for a second term in an election scheduled for October 15. The two men had already met one year ago at the Vatican.

The pope will not travel for logistical matters to Beira (center), the second city of the country swept away in March by Cyclone Idai, which left 600 dead and hundreds of thousands homeless. "Even if I can not go beyond the capital, my heart joins you and embraces you all, with a special place for those who live in difficulty," he told them, before the trip.

By visiting one of the most deprived regions of the planet, struck by sanitary disasters, unemployment and social inequalities, Jorge Bergoglio, who has rubbed shoulders with the shantytowns of Argentina, intends to display its proximity. Especially with the young people of the country, of all faiths, whom he will meet at the end of the morning.

The climate crisis on the menu

François could also speak about the climate emergency. According to the World Bank, Mozambique, with more than 2,000 km of coastline along the Indian Ocean, is among the ten countries most threatened by the consequences of climate change.

The "Pope of the Poor", who will be taking his second papal trip to sub-Saharan Africa from 4 to 10 September, will also visit Madagascar, where deforestation is beginning to cause concern, and end his visit with the more opulent tourist island of Mauritius, also in Indian Ocean.

To mark the exceptional visit of the pope to Mozambique, the government has spent about 300,000 euros on preparations, a sum that has helped to restore the Cathedral of Maputo and the streets of the capital. The Zimpeto stadium, where François is to celebrate Mass on Friday, is ready.

With AFP