Pope to visit Lanka despite Rajapaksa's electoral defeat

 Sri Lanka's Roman Catholic church on Friday said that Pope Francis will go ahead with his visit to the country next week despite the change of government following snap polls.

PTI| Last Updated: Jan 09, 2015, 22:54 PM IST

Colombo: Sri Lanka's Roman Catholic church on Friday said that Pope Francis will go ahead with his visit to the country next week despite the change of government following snap polls.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith appealed for "peace and order" during the January 13-15 visit of the pontiff after Mahinda Rajapaksa was trounced by his former health minister and opposition unity candidate Maithripala Sirisena in the just concluded presidential elections.

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

The statement added that Sirisena, 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 were apprehensions that a messy electoral outcome might have thrown the papal visit into doubt but Rajapakse graciously conceded defeat that was welcomed by Sirisena.

Catholics account for around six per cent of the population in Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka.