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 Constitution of 1963 was the Queen of Kenya, 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 a 1964 constitutional amendment and the Monarch, Governor-General and Prime Minister 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.

No. Portrait Monarch
Reign Royal House Prime Minister
Reign start Reign end Duration
1 Queen Elizabeth II 1959 (cropped).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 Officer Administering the Government.

  Denotes Chief Justice acting as Officer Administering the Government
No. Portrait Governor-General
Term of office Monarch Prime Minister
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[edit]

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 his 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.

  Denotes Vice President acting as President
No. Portrait Name
Elected Term of office Political party Vice President (1964–2013)
Deputy President (2013–)
Took office Left office Time in office
1 Jomo Kenyatta.jpg Jomo Kenyatta
12 December 1964 22 August 1978
(died in office)
13 years, 253 days Kenya African National Union Jaramogi Oginga Odinga
Joseph Murumbi
Daniel arap Moi
2 Daniel arap Moi 1979b.jpg Daniel arap Moi
22 August 1978 8 November 1978 24 years, 130 days Kenya African National Union
1978 22 August 1978 30 December 2002 Mwai Kibaki
1988 Josephat Karanja
George Saitoti
George Saitoti
Musalia Mudavadi
3 Mwai Kibaki 2011-07-08.jpg Mwai Kibaki
(born 1931)
2002 30 December 2002 9 April 2013 10 years, 100 days National Rainbow Coalition
Michael Kijana Wamalwa
Moody Awori
2007 Party of National Unity
Kalonzo Musyoka
4 Uhuru Kenyatta.jpg Uhuru Kenyatta
(born 1961)
2013 9 April 2013 Incumbent 8 years, 60 days The National Alliance William Ruto
2017 Jubilee Party


Living former heads of state[edit]

There are two living former heads of state:

Image Name Term/Reign Office Date of birth
Elizabeth II greets NASA GSFC employees, May 8, 2007 edit.jpg Queen Elizabeth II 1963–1964 Queen of Kenya (1926-04-21) 21 April 1926 (age 95)
Mwai Kibaki (cropped).jpg Mwai Kibaki 2002–2013 President of Kenya (1931-11-15) 15 November 1931 (age 89)

External links[edit]