2014-12-12 15:37:00

Sri Lankan Catholic Church: candidates pledge no violence

A Sri Lankan Catholic Church leader has said the two main candidates in January 8th presidential election have promised a violence-free vote, with Pope Francis scheduled to visit the country just days later.    The Pontiff is to start a three-day visit on Jan. 13, five days after the poll.  Some church officials are fearing there could be post-election violence because of the acrimonious campaign.  President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is seeking a third term in office, is facing his former health minister, Maithripala Sirisena. Sirisena defected from Rajapaksa's government after the election was announced last month.  Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith told the Catholic weekly newspaper Messenger that the bishops' conference met both candidates and received their assurances of no violence.  

Meanwhile, seven observer groups, some of which are funded by foreign non-governmental organizations, on Thursday raised concerns that the ruling party was exploiting public services and employees and that the police were ignoring complaints.  They complained that the use of state resources was giving Rajapaksa an unfair advantage.   

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