List of heads of state of Kenya

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Monarch (1963–1964)

The succession to the throne was the same as the succession to the British throne.

No. Portrait Name
Reign Royal House Prime minister(s)
Reign start Reign end Duration
1 Queen Elizabeth II official portrait for 1959 tour (retouched) (cropped) (3-to-4 aspect ratio).jpg Queen Elizabeth II
12 December 1963 12 December 1964 1 year Windsor Kenyatta


The governor-general was the representative of the monarch in Kenya and exercised most of the powers of the monarch. The governor-general was appointed for an indefinite term, serving at the pleasure of the monarch. Since Kenya was granted independence by the Kenya Independence Act 1963, rather than being first established as a semi-autonomous dominion and later promoted to independence as defined by the Statute of Westminster 1931, the governor-general was to be always appointed solely on the advice of the Cabinet of Kenya without the involvement of the British government. As Kenya became a republic before Malcolm MacDonald, the former colonial governor, was replaced, this has never happened. In the event of a vacancy the chief justice would have served as the officer administering the government.

 Denotes Chief Justice acting as Officer Administering the Government
No. Portrait Name
Term of office Monarch Prime minister(s)
Took office Left office Time in office
1 Malcolm MacDonald cropped.jpg Malcolm MacDonald
12 December 1963 12 December 1964 1 year Elizabeth II Kenyatta

President of Kenya (1964–Current)

Under the 1964 Constitutional Amendment establishing the Republic of Kenya, the president replaced the monarch as head of state and the prime minister as chief executive. The president was initially elected by the House of Representatives of Kenya, and, after the merger of the House of Representatives and Senate into a unicameral National Assembly, by the National Assembly, for a five-year term. In the event of a vacancy the vice-president would have served as acting president for 90 days until new elections were held.

Following the enactment of the 1969 Constitution of Kenya, the system of election by the National Assembly was replaced by direct elections under a first-past-the-post system, yet true separation of powers was still not established; the president had to also be elected as an MP and he had to appoint ministers from among MPs, the president was still able to dissolve the National Assembly, and the Assembly was still able to declare no confidence in the ministers. Not only that, but until the first multiparty elections in 1992, only one candidate - that of the Kenya African National Union - was nominated and automatically declared winner of the elections without voting actually being held.

With the enactment of the 2010 Constitution, Kenya's current, the first-past-the-post system was replaced in presidential elections in favor of a two-round system, the post of vice-president was renamed deputy president and was made to automatically succeed to the presidency in case of a vacancy for the remainder of the term in a full, not merely acting, capacity, and the requirement of the president, DP, and ministers to also be MPs was abolished, finally establishing separation of powers between the executive and legislature.

(Birth–Death) Elected Term of office Political party Deputy President Took office Left office Time in office 1 Jomo Kenyatta.jpg Jomo Kenyatta
(1897–1978) — 12 December 1964 22 August 1978 † 13 years, 253 days Kenya African National Union Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Joseph Murumbi Daniel arap Moi 1969 1974 2 Daniel arap Moi 1979b.jpg Daniel arap Moi
(1924–2020) — 22 August 1978 8 November 1978 24 years, 130 days 1978 8 November 1978 30 December 2002 Mwai Kibaki 1979 1983 1988 Josephat Karanja George Saitoti 1992 1997 Vacant George Saitoti Musalia Mudavadi 3 Mwai Kibaki, October 2003.jpg Mwai Kibaki
(1931–2022) 2002 30 December 2002 16 September 2007 10 years, 100 days National Rainbow Coalition Michael Kijana Wamalwa Moody Awori (3) 2007 16 September 2007 9 April 2013 Party of National Unity Kalonzo Musyoka 4 Uhuru Kenyatta.jpg Uhuru Kenyatta
(born 1961) 2013 9 April 2013 7 September 2016 9 years, 157 days The National Alliance William Ruto 2017 7 September 2016 13 September 2022 Jubilee Party 5 William Ruto 2023.jpg William Ruto
(born 1966) 2022 13 September 2022 Incumbent 242 days United Democratic Alliance Rigathi Gachagua


William RutoUhuru KenyattaMwai KibakiDaniel arap MoiJomo Kenyatta


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This page was last updated at 2023-05-13 16:30 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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