Incumbent president Daniel arap Moi was ineligible to pursue a third term due to the two-term limit in the Constitution of Kenya. This was the first truly free general election held in Kenya since independence in 1964; a number of by-elections were held in 1966 before the onset of de facto one-party rule in 1969. The general election saw the end of the long-standing dominance of the KANU, which had governed the country since independence in 1963, including 23 years as the only legal party. The National Rainbow Coalition won a majority in the National Assembly.
Incumbent president Moi was constitutionally barred from running in the 2002 presidential elections. Some of his supporters floated the idea of amending the constitution to allow him to run for a third term, but Moi preferred to retire, choosing Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of Kenya's first President, as his successor. In protest of Moi's decision a group of disappointed KANU presidential aspirants quit KANU and formed the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).