746E.13/3–2352: Telegram

The Ambassador in Ceylon (Satterthwaite) to the Department of State


530. Death PriMin after accident that left him unconscious1 has put governing party in difficulties as to succession. Obvious successor wld be either party’s chief surviving elder statesman Home Min Goonetilleke or majority leader House Min Trans Kotelawala. Former appears polit though not legally disqualified as member Senate. Latter considered have too many enemies. PriMin’s son MinAgri Dudley Senanayake was being groomed for eventual succession and may be selected now despite relative youth to capitalize on patriarchal traditions Ceylonese people and prestige family name. Likely Goonetilleke wld prefer Dudley as most inclined take his advice. Kotelawala reliably reported consider himself as House leader to be obvious successor and feel that failure select him wld constitute intolerable public affront. As his faction includes heavy contributors party funds he probably is in position make difficulties.

In absence Governor General Soulbury, role as officer administrating govt likely continue present Cabinet as stop-gap for few days. Decision can likely be postponed until after funeral PriMin Sat 29 which shld give Soulbury who due arrive Wed time use his personal prestige (his work as head former Soulbury Commission facilitated Ceylon’s independence) to exert moderating influence.

  1. He had fallen from his horse on the afternoon of Mar. 22.