The Latest: Pope Francis wraps up Africa trip

AP News
Posted: Nov 30, 2015 1:40 PM
The Latest: Pope Francis wraps up Africa trip

BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) — The latest on Pope Francis' first trip to Africa. (All times local.)


7:35 p.m.

The United Nations says its peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic built the popemobile that Pope Francis used during his historic visit to the violence-torn nation.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Monday that in addition to building the white metal structure on the back of the open-air vehicle that allowed hundreds of thousands to see the pope, the U.N. mission in Central African Republic supported government efforts to secure the capital Bangui.

The U.N. mission in Central African Republic has nearly 11,000 military and police. It was beefed up for the pope's visit by a special unit of 250 peacekeepers from the U.N. mission in Ivory Coast.

Dujarric stressed the importance of the pope's messages of peace and reconciliation to members of the Christian and Muslim communities including victims of violence.

— Edith M. Lederer, United Nations


11:35 a.m.

Pope Francis is on his way back to Italy after a two-day visit to Central African Republic. After a final Mass at the sports stadium in Bangui, the pope's motorcade headed to the airport where his plane has now taken off.

Despite security concerns raised about the pope's visit to the highly volatile country, Francis was able to visit the Muslim enclave of PK5 and say Mass at the cathedral and sports stadium without incident. This is the end of the pope's 5-day visit to three African countries, Kenya, Uganda and Central African Republic.

— Jerome Delay, Bangui


9:10 a.m.

Pope Francis has told crowds gathered at the main mosque of Central African Republic's capital that Muslims and Christians are brothers, and must live as such.

On a rare trip into the volatile neighborhood known as PK5, the pope recalled Monday how Christians and Muslims had long lived together peacefully in Bangui.

The sectarian violence that erupted nearly two years ago has forced most of the capital's 122,000 Muslims to flee for their lives, with only 15,000 now remaining.

Francis' visit was deeply symbolic and marked the highlight of his three-nation African tour. Francis was wrapping up his visit with a final Mass in Bangui's sports stadium before returning to Rome.

— Bishr El-Touni, Bangui


8:45 a.m.

Pope Francis is making a rare trip to a besieged Muslim enclave inside Central African Republic on the second day of his trip to the country wracked by sectarian violence.

The pope journeyed early Monday into the neighborhood known as PK5 that has been a flashpoint of recent violence.

The visit is part of the message of peace and reconciliation that Pope Francis has been bringing to Central African Republic, where sectarian violence exploded nearly two years ago.

The violence has forced most of the capital's 122,000 Muslims to flee for their lives, with only 15,000 now remaining.

Francis had insisted on coming to the neighborhood to appeal for peace despite the security concerns.

— Bishr El-Touni, Bangui