Pope Francis to make first African visit in November

Pope Francis to make first African visit in November
Pope Francis with Ignatius Aphrem at a meeting in the Vatican.
PHOTO: Reuters

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis will go to Uganda and the Central African Republic in November on his first visit to Africa, the Vatican announced Friday.

The Argentinian pontiff has said several times in recent months that he intended to travel to Africa this year.

"If God permits it I will be in Africa in November, in the Central African Republic and in Uganda," he said earlier this month.

The confirmed dates of November 27-29 were posted Friday on the official Vatican website.

The announcement of the visit to the Central African Republic came as the authorities there said presidential and legislative elections would take place in October and November -- finishing the week before he arrives.

Francis will be in Uganda to mark the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI's canonisation during the first visit by a pontiff to Africa of 22 Catholic martyrs -- converts to Christianity who were executed in the 19th century.

The Central African Republic is seeking to emerge from brutal inter-religious violence in 2013-2014 which left thousands dead, while Uganda remains under threat of attack from Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shebab Islamists from neighbouring Somalia.

After visits to Sri Lanka and the Philippines in January, Pope Francis is due to visit Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay next month.

In September, he will travel to Cuba and the United States.

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