Kotelawala, Sir John Lionel

Kotelawala, Sir John Lionel, 1895–1980, Sri Lankan political and military leader. After studying at Christ College, Cambridge, he returned to Sri Lanka (then the British colony of Ceylon), joining the Ceylon light infantry (1922) as a second lieutenant and rising to become its commanding officer (1939) and a colonel (1942). Upon Ceylon's independence (1948) he was appointed to the senate as a member of the United National party and held several cabinet positions under Prime Minister Don Stephen Senanayake. As prime minister (1953–56), Kotelawala established relations with other Asian countries and took Ceylon into the United Nations. Following his party's defeat in the 1956 elections, he was succeeded as prime minister by S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike. A strong supporter of the military, he left his estate to the country, and in 1985 a national defense academy was established there. Kotelawala was knighted in 1948.

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