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Pope to visit Sri Lanka despite Rajapakse defeat

9th January 2015 | 3.482 Views
Pope to visit Sri Lanka despite Rajapakse defeat
Pope Francis. (Reuters)
Colombo (ANTARA News) - The Catholic church Friday reiterated that Pope Francis will go ahead with his visit to Sri Lanka next week despite the change of government in Colombo following a snap election.

Colombo-based Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith appealed for "peace and order" after Mahinda Rajapakse was defeated by his former health minister and opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena, AFP reported.

"We earnestly appeal to all Sri Lankans to help make this visit of the Holy Father (from January 13 to 15) a success by maintaining peace and order at this moment when a new president has been elected," the church said in a statement.

It said the incoming president, who is also a Buddhist like his predecessor, had promised Cardinal Ranjith "to give his fullest cooperation for the success of this papal visit".

There had been concerns that a messy outcome to the election might have thrown the papal visit into doubt but Rajapakse conceded defeat on Friday in a move that was welcomed by Sirisena.

Roman Catholics account for around six percent of the population in Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka.