The leader of the Catholic Church has urged Mozambique's political leaders to uphold peace and tone down divisive rhetoric. The country is hoping to avert political violence in the run-up to elections slated for October.
Pope Francis on Thursday urged Mozambique to uphold its hard-earned peace after warring parties signed a peace deal in August, decades after the end of its brutal civil war.
"You have experienced suffering, sorrow and affliction, but you have refused to let human relationships be governed by vengeance or repression or to allow hatred and violence to have the final word," said Francis during a trip to three African countries.
The pope described last month's peace accord as a "landmark" for the country. However, he urged the country's political leaders to avoid incendiary rhetoric as Mozambicans gear up for elections next month.
"As we know, peace is not merely the absence of war but a tireless commitment, especially on the part of those of us charged with greater responsibility," said the pope.
Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi thanked the pope for his "immeasurable support."
"The efforts made by the Mozambicans, Holy Father, are essentially aimed at building a nation where non-violence becomes a culture lived by all, where politics is done through the force of argument and not the force of arms," Nyusi said.
A 1993 peace accord signed in Rome by warring parties collapsed two decades later when government forces raided opposition encampments in the bush, triggering a new insurgency.
But negotiations were relaunched in 2016 and concluded with a new peace accord last month, paving the way for fresh elections. More than one million people were killed, including from famine, throughout the 15-year conflict.