Colombo: The first Papal visit to Sri Lanka in nearly two decades will take place as scheduled, local church said on Monday, amid concerns that the trip by Pope Francis might be cancelled due to any violence erupting after Thursday's crucial presidential election.
The scheduled three-day visit of Pope Francis to Sri Lanka - beginning January 11 - will go ahead as planned and there was no question of cancellation, Father Cyril Gamini, media secretary for the visit and spokesman of the local Catholic Church, said.
Earlier, there were concerns expressed that the visit may get cancelled due to any violence related to the upcoming presidential election on Thursday.
"Both main party candidates have assured that they would accept whatever the result and ensure a peaceful Papal visit," Gamini said.
The incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa and the main opposition challenger Maithripala Sirisena have issued the necessary guarantees to the Catholic Bishops' Conference, he said.
This is the first Papal visit to Sri Lanka since January, 1995.
The arrival of Pope Francis, 78, falls close to the January 9 declaration of the results of the election, regarded as the most closely fought presidential run since the inaugural poll in October, 1982.
Sri Lanka is a Buddhist majority with a 74 per cent Buddhist population.