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Kenya declares national holiday to mark papal visit

A cardboard cutout of Pope Francis stands behind the choir during Mass at the Holy Family Minor Basilica in Nairobi, Kenya (AP)

The Kenyan government has declared a national public holiday on the day Pope Francis will celebrate Mass in Nairobi, drawing an expected crowd of 1.4 million people.

The papal Mass is due to take place on Thursday in the grounds of the University of Nairobi. Large crowds are expected to flock to the event.

The national holiday of prayer and reflection was announced Tuesday by Manoah Esipisu, a spokesman for President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Concerns have been raised that businesses in the city centre will be unable to operate due to the overflowing crowds and road closings.

This is the first trip to Africa for Francis. From November 25 – 30, the Pope is visiting Kenya, Uganda and Central African Republic and he is expected to deliver messages touching on sectarian violence, the environment and poverty.

For the full schedule of his visit go here.