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PM’s remark on Covid-19 burial, ‘Legalising only through Gazette amendment’  

  • Political decision expressed on behalf of Govt. 

  • No special discussion on Covid-19 with Pakistani PM 

  • All Muslim MPs and Opposition seek meeting 

 

Notwithstanding the political decision recently expressed by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on behalf of the Government, permitting the burial of the bodies of Covid-19 victims cannot be done without amending the Gazette issued in this regard in April 2020, Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said. 

 

He further noted that in order for this political decision that has been announced by the Premier to be legalised, the relevant Gazette in place must be amended as stated by State Minister of Primary Healthcare, Epidemics, and Covid Disease Control Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle. 

 

The Minister was responding to Premier Rajapaksa’s recent remarks made in Parliament that the burial of Covid-19 dead would be allowed and on the subsequent statements made by foreign envoys welcoming it. 

 

“The Prime Minister expressed a decision on behalf of the Government. The announced decision is a political one which has to be legalised. The relevant Gazette should be amended. How can we go ahead without amending the Gazette? The Gazette was issued to all citizens,” he told The Sunday Morning

 

He further said that certain steps needed to be taken in this regard after considering the health instructions and orders and regulations issued through the Gazette. 

 

“The relevant parties dealing with the matter will take action to come to a conclusion. State Minister Dr. Fernandopulle has explained this. The law prevented the burial of Covid-19 victims following a Gazette issued last year based on World Health Organisation (WHO) instructions. According to what Dr. Fernandopulle has said, after having consultations, the experts will make a decision,” he said. 

 

When queried as to whether the issue would be discussed with the visiting Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan, the Foreign Minister said that no special discussion has been scheduled on the Covid-19 issue. “Whether he speaks about it or not, is something we can only say after he comes,” he further said. 

 

Commenting on the foreign envoys’ remarks on the matter, Minister Gunawardena said: “No one from overseas will come to discuss these things.” 

Meanwhile, when contacted for details about Premier Khan’s visit, the Pakistan High Commission said that only the visit has been confirmed as of yet. “The exact date or the time has not been finalised yet. No other information is available at the moment,” it said. 

 

Meanwhile, All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) Leader and Parliamentarian Rishad Bathiudeen said that they have requested for an appointment to meet the visiting Prime Minister of Pakistan. 

 

“We have not been given a date as of yet, but we hope that an appointment will be given. We are planning to meet him with all the parties together, including the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), and the ruling party Muslim MPs. At this moment, we cannot say as to what would be discussed,” he told The Sunday Morning

 

Meanwhile, SLMC Secretary Nizam Kariapper said that he has not yet been informed about a meeting through the Pakistan High Commission or their Party Leader.