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John Kotelawala

Sri Lankan politician

Died when: 83 years 181 days (1001 months)
Star Sign: Aries

 

John Kotelawala

General Sir John Lionel Kotelawala (Sinhala: ශ්‍රිමත් ජෝන් ලයනල් කොතලාවල; 4 April 1897 – 2 October 1980) was a Sri Lankan statesman, most notable as the 3rd Prime Minister of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) from 1953 to 1956.

Born to a wealthy landholding and mining family, Kotelawala had a difficult childhood with the suicide of his father and financial difficulties that followed.

He was educated at Royal College, Colombo and Christ's College, Cambridge before returning to become a planter and run the family estates and mines.

Kotelawala joined the as an volunteer officer in Ceylon Defense Force in 1922.Being from a politically active family, he entered mainstream politics in 1931 having been elected to the State Council of Ceylon.

He went on to serve as Minister of Communications and Works in the Second Board of Ministers of Ceylon.Having served as the commanding officer of the Ceylon Light Infantry, he transferred to the reserve with the rank of colonel in 1942.

With Ceylon gaining independence in 1945, he was elected to Parliament and became a member of the first Cabinet as Minister of Transport and Works.

Overlooked for the post of Prime Minister when his uncle the first Prime Minister of Ceylon, D.S.Senanayake died suddenly.

A year later he succeeded his cousin Dudley Senanayake as the third Prime Minister of Ceylon serving until his party lost the general election in 1956.

Kotelawala retired from politics thereafter going to self imposed exile in Kent.Having donated his home Kandawala to the state to form a defense university, he was granted the rank of general on his deathbed.


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