List of heads of state of Kenya

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This is a list of the heads of state of Kenya from the independence of Kenya in 1963 to the present day.

From 1963 to 1964 the head of state under the Kenya Independence Act 1963 was the Queen, Elizabeth II, who was also the monarch of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms. The monarch was represented in Kenya by a Governor-General. Kenya became a republic under the Constitution of 1964 and the monarch and Governor-General were replaced by an executive President.

Monarch (1963–1964)[edit]

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

Queen Reign Royal House Prime Minister
# Portrait Name Reign start Reign end Duration
1 Queen Elizabeth II - 1953-Dress.JPG Elizabeth II
12 December 1963 12 December 1964 1 year House of Windsor Kenyatta


Standard of the Governor-General of Kenya

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. After the passage of the Statute of Westminster 1931, the Governor-General was appointed solely on the advice of the Cabinet of Kenya without the involvement of the British government. In the event of a vacancy the Chief Justice served as Officer Administering the Government.

  Denotes Chief Justice acting as Officer Administering the Government
Governor-General Term of Office Monarch Prime Minister
# Portrait Name Took Office Left Office Duration
1 Malcolm MacDonald cropped.jpg Malcolm MacDonald
12 December 1963 12 December 1964 1 year Elizabeth II Kenyatta


History of the presidency[edit]

Kenya has so far had a total of 4 presidents. The first President, Jomo Kenyatta was a Prime Minister before he became president. He served as Prime Minister from December 1963 till December 1964. During Jomo Kenyatta's regime there were no presidential elections until his death in August 1978, while on holiday. After this his vice-president, Daniel Arap Moi took over and a year after Kenyatta's death when the 1979 elections were held he was the only contestant.

He became the longest serving president, serving 24 years. During that time Kenya's economy faced severe stagnation and decline only to recover in the mid-2000s. The first multi-party elections since independence, were held in 1992 because Kenya was a one-party state before then. Even though they were the first multi-party elections in Kenya there were allegations of ballot-box stuffing and ethnic skirmishes. Elections were held again in 1997 with the same problems during which Moi still served as president till 2002 as the constitution had been renewed to limit presidential terms.

Mwai Kibaki won the elections 5 years later in 2002. The election of in 2007 was disputed during which over 1000 Kenyans died during the violence that occurred after elections which were said to be massively rigged. Mwai Kibaki still served but in a grand coalition government that included the opposition leader Raila Odinga serving as Prime Minister, he is the only other Kenyan Prime Minister after Jomo Kenyatta. The coalition government came from different points of view and thus didn't achieve much. In 2013 Kenya's biggest elections were held in which Uhuru Kenyatta (Incumbent) won with 50.07% of the vote.


Under the 1964 constitution of the Republic of Kenya, the President replaced the monarch as executive head of state. The President was elected by Parliament for a five-year term. In the event of a vacancy the Deputy President served as Acting President.


      Kenya African National Union
      National Rainbow Coalition / Party of National Unity
      Jubilee Alliance

# Portrait Name Term Tenure Election Year/Voter Percentage Affiliation
1 Jomo Kenyatta.jpg Jomo Kenyatta
1 12 December
6 December
Kenya African National Union
2 6 December
14 October
1969 — Unopposed
3 14 October
22 August
1974 — Unopposed
The first President of the Republic of Kenya, he was also one of two of the only serving Prime Ministers of Kenya. Kenya was a one-party state until the Kenyan presidential election, 1992. There were also never any Presidential elections during his presidency.
†Died in office while on tour in Mombasa in August, 1978.
2 Daniel arap Moi 1979b.jpg Daniel arap Moi
(1924– )
22 August
8 November
Acting Kenya African National Union
4 8 November
26 September
1979 — Unopposed [1]
5 26 September
21 March
1983 — Unopposed [2]
6 21 March
29 December
1988 — Unopposed [3]
Daniel arap Moi was Vice-President under Jomo Kenyatta, and succeeded him on his death. He served at a time during which Kenya was a one-party state, and he ran unopposed for the 1979, 1983 and the 1988 Kenyan elections.
First Multi-Party Elections Held in 1992
(2) Daniel arap Moi 1979b.jpg Daniel arap Moi
(1924– )
7 29 December
29 December
1992 — 36.4%
Kenya African National Union
8 29 December
29 December
1997 — 40.6%
Daniel arap Moi became the longest serving president, serving for 24 years. He stepped down after serving two 5-year terms in 2002, after the constitution was drafted to limit the terms one could serve as President of Kenya.
3 Mwai Kibaki.jpg Mwai Kibaki
(1931– )
9 29 December
29 December
2002 — 61.3%
National Rainbow Coalition (2002–2007)
10 30 December
3 April
2007 — 47%
Party of National Unity (2007–2013)
When Mwai Kibaki took office Kenya's economy was doing poorly, under his government by 2007 the economy had an average growth rate of 7.1%. Kibaki introduced the Kenya Vision 2030 Programme, an economic blueprint designed to steer Kenya into a middle income nation by 2030.
4 Uhuru Kenyatta Official.jpg Uhuru Kenyatta
(1961– )
11 4 April
Incumbent 2013 — 50.07%
Jubilee Alliance
The son of former President Jomo Kenyatta. First President of a devolved Kenya; i.e. after Counties of Kenya became operational.

Presidential Standards[edit]

Living former heads of state[edit]

Name Term/Reign Office Date of birth
Elizabeth II 1963–1964 Queen of Kenya (1926-04-21) April 21, 1926 (age 90)
Daniel arap Moi 1978–2002 President of Kenya (1924-09-02) September 2, 1924 (age 91)
Mwai Kibaki 2002–2013 President of Kenya (1931-11-15) November 15, 1931 (age 84)

External links[edit]