President of Kenya

The president of the Republic of Kenya (Swahili: Rais wa Jamhuri ya Kenya) is the head of state and head of government of Kenya. The president leads the executive arm of the Government of Kenya and is the commander-in-chief of the Kenya Defence Forces.[2] The official residence of the president is State House, Nairobi.

President of The Republic of Kenya
Rais wa Jamhuri ya Kenya  (Swahili)
Kenya presidential standard UHURU KENYATTA.svg
Uhuru Kenyatta.png
Uhuru Kenyatta

since 9 April 2013
StyleHis Excellency
(Formal/International Correspondence)
ResidenceState House, Nairobi (Official Residence)
AppointerDirect popular vote
Term lengthFive years;
renewable once
PrecursorQueen of Kenya
Inaugural holderJomo Kenyatta
12 December 1964
DeputyDeputy President of Kenya
SalaryKES.1,650,000 monthly[1]

The wife of the president is referred to as the first lady of Kenya.

Uhuru Kenyatta was the incumbent president, since 9 April 2013. He is the son of the first president, Jomo Kenyatta. He was elected on the Jubilee party ticket.


The Presidential Standard

The President is the head of state and government, as in most republics. He is also the Commander-in-chief of the Kenya Defence Forces.

The President has the power to appoint every leader within the executive including Cabinet Secretaries and the Attorney General of Kenya.

Kenya has had a total of 4 presidents. Two of the former Presidents, Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel arap Moi (deceased). The longest serving president was Moi who served for a total of 24 years.

The National Assembly with at least a third of all the members, may set in motion an act to impeach the President. The National Assembly may do so on the grounds of gross violation of the Constitution or any other law, where there is reasons to believing that the President has committed a crime under national or international law or for gross misconduct.

If the motion to impeach passes in the National Assembly the act to impeach moves to the Senate and if at least two-thirds of all the members of the Senate vote to uphold any impeachment charge, the President shall cease to hold office. Removal of President by impeachment - Kenya Law Reform Commission


The person to be elected as president should be a Kenyan citizen by birth,[3] who can be elected as member of parliament and has been nominated by a political party or stand as independent candidate. The candidate should also have been nominated by more than two thousand voters in twenty-four counties.[4][5][6]

A Candidate will be disqualified to run for presidency if they have allegiance to a foreign state or is working for the government in any capacity as a public officer. Being a public officer is not applicable to the incumbent president.[4][7][8]

Term of officeEdit

A president is eligible for two consecutive terms of five years each starting from the date the president is sworn in.[9][10]

Roles and responsibilitiesEdit

The following are the roles of the president of Kenya:[11]

  • The president will be responsible for addressing new parliament and report once to special parliamentary seating concerning issues of national value and governance[12][13][14]
  • The nominating authority of cabinet secretaries, attorney general, principle secretaries and high commissioners in accordance to constitution[12]
  • Chair cabinet meetings and oversee the running of operations in various ministries and government departments.[12]
  • The president may also undertake any other executive functions as permitted by the constitution.[12]

Power of mercyEdit

The president has the power of mercy to pardon a person who has convicted an offence. This can only be done upon a petition by any person and advise and recommendation based from advisory Committee after looking into views of the victim of offence.[15][16][17]

Constitution of KenyaEdit

Kenya's 1963 independence constitution was based on the standard "Lancaster House template" used for the former British colonies in Africa, was subject to early amendments, and was replaced in 1969.

Under the Constitution of Kenya, the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, was represented as head of state by a Governor-General of Kenya. The Constitution also provided for a bicameral parliament, the National Assembly, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Each province had an elected assembly.

In 1964, the Constitution was amended to make the country a republic with the President as both head of state and head of government, and in 1966, the membership of the Senate and House of Representatives was combined to form a unicameral National Assembly.


The constitution of Kenya is the supreme law of the Republic of Kenya. There have been three significant versions of the constitution, with the most recent redraft being enabled in 2010. The 2010 edition replaced the 1963 independence constitution. The constitution was presented to the Attorney General of Kenya on 7 April 2010, officially published on 6 May 2010, and was subjected to a referendum on 4 August 2010.

The new constitution was approved by 67% of Kenyan voters. The constitution was promulgated on 27 August 2010.

Constitutional reforms involving wholly new texts since gaining independence: in 1969 and in 2010. In 1969, the 1963 independence constitution was replaced with a new text that entrenched amendments already made to the system of government that the independence constitution had contemplated.[a]

These changes included: changing the structure of the state from a federal, or Majimbo system, to a unitary system; creating a unicameral instead of bicameral legislature; changing from a parliamentary to a semi-presidential system with a powerful presidency; and reducing the protections of the bill of rights. Further amendments to the 1969 constitution were later effected, including, in 1982, the institution of a de jure single party government.

The demand for a new constitution to replace the 1969 text with a more democratic system began in the early 1990s, with the end of the Cold War and democratic changes taking place elsewhere in Africa. The single party system was ended in 1991, and the first presidential election took place in 1992. Calls for a comprehensive review of the 1969 Constitution intensified in the late 1990s and early 2000s, helped by the victory of the opposition National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) party in the 2002 general elections. Official and civil society consultation processes led to the adoption of what became known as the "Bomas draft" constitution (after the location of the conference that adopted it). However, substantial amendments were nonetheless made to this draft prior to a referendum in 2005, resulting in a split in the then ruling coalition. The Liberal Democratic Party faction of the government, led by Raila Odinga, and supported by KANU led a successful 'No' vote against the amended Bomas Draft (called the Wako draft after the alleged mastermind of the changes). The review of the Constitution stalled and negotiations over the adoption of a new text seemed deadlocked. A deadlock only finally broken by the intervention of the African Union through a mediation team headed by Kofi Annan, following the outbreak of serious post-election violence in early 2008.

Drafting process for the 2010 ConstitutionEdit

The Constitution of Kenya was the final document resulting from the revision of the Harmonized draft constitution of [Kenya] written by the Committee of Experts initially released to the public on 17 November 2009 so that the public could debate the document and then parliament could decide whether to subject it to a referendum in June 2010. The public was given 30 days to scrutinise the draft and forward proposals and amendments to their respective members of parliament, after which a revised draft was presented to the Parliamentary Committee on 8 January 2010. The Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) revised the draft and returned the draft to the Committee of Experts who published a Proposed Constitution on 23 February 2010 that was presented to Parliament for final amendments if necessary.

After failing to incorporate over 150 amendments to the proposed constitution, parliament unanimously approved the proposed constitution on 1 April 2010. The proposed constitution was presented to the Attorney General of Kenya on 7 April 2010, officially published on 6 May 2010, and was subjected to a referendum on 4 August 2010.The new Constitution was approved by 67% of Kenyan voters.

Government StructureEdit

The key changes proposed by the new constitution released are in the following areas:

  • Separation of Powers between the Three arms of government i.e. Executive, Legislature and Judiciary.
  • The Executive – who holds executive authority and the qualifications.
  • The Legislature – the composition, and representation of the people. An introduction of an upper house – the Senate.
  • The Judiciary – qualations to hold office and appointment.
  • Devolution – only two levels of Government: National and Counties.
  • Citizenship – among other issues, gender discrimination was ended, and citizens who acquire foreign citizenship will not lose their Kenyan citizenship.

Gains achievedEdit

  • An advanced Bill of Rights that among other things recognizes Socio-Economic rights of the Kenyan citizens. (Chapter Four).
  • The removal of age limit of 35 years to run for president. New draft allows people to run as long as they are of adult age. Article 137(b)
  • Right to Recall legislators (Senators and Members of the National Assembly). (Article 104)
  • Representation in elective bodies has to effectively meet a gender equity constitutional requirement, namely that no more than two-thirds of members shall be from either gender in its make up. Chapter 7, Article 81(b)
  • Integrity Chapter, requires an Independent Ethics Commission to be set up that will monitor compliance with Integrity in all government institutions and make investigations,recommendations to the necessary authorities i.e. Attorney General and any other relevant authority.(Chapter Six)
  • An advanced Human Rights and Equality Commission[18] that will also have power to investigate and summon people involved in Human Rights abuses within the government and with the public.(Article 252)
  • Equitable Sharing of resources[19] between the National government and the County government through a resolution of Parliament. Chapter 12- Part 4.
  • An Equalisation Fund to improve basic access to basic needs of the marginalised communities. (Article 204).
  • Any member of the Public has a right to bring up a case against the government on the basis of infringement of Human Rights and the Bill of Rights – Article 23(1)(2). The courts and government institutions are bound to the Bill of Rights as per the constitution Article 2(1), Article 10(1).
  • The Salaries and Remuneration Commission [20]that is an Independent entity and has the power of regularly reviewing salaries of all State officers[21] to ensure the Compensation bill is fiscally sustainable. Article 230(5).
  • Independence of the Judiciary is affirmed Article 160.
  • An Independent National Land Commission created to Maintain oversight and manage all Land(Public) belonging to National and County Government and recommend policy on addressing complaints from public,advise the National government on ways of improving National and County land management,planning,dispute resolution. Article 67.
  • Environmental Rights are recognised under Chapter 5(Part 2)
  • Freedom of Media establishment from penalty on expression, by the State on any Opinion and dissemination of media. Article 34. This is subject to the Article 33.

The ExecutiveEdit

The executive at the top most levels will be constituted of a president, deputy president and the Cabinet.

Key functions of the presidentEdit

  • Shall be the Head of state & Head of government of the Republic of Kenya.
  • Shall not be a member of parliament
  • Commander-in-Chief – and will declare war and state emergency upon approval by the National Assembly and Cabinet respectively.
  • Head of Government – will wield executive authority and will co-ordinate and supervise all major sections of the executive branch.
  • Shall nominate, appoint with prior approval of the national assembly, and dismiss Cabinet Secretaries.
  • Preside over Cabinet meetings.
  • Shall assent bills into law or refer them back to parliament for further review.
  • Shall nominate, and after approval of Parliament, appoint a Chief Justice.
  • Shall nominate, and after approval of Parliament, appoint an Attorney General
  • Shall nominate, and after approval of Parliament, appoint a Director of Public prosecution.
  • Shall appoint Judges to the Superior Court recommended to him/her by an independent Judiciary Service Commission.
  • Shall appoint Ambassadors/High Commissioners to Kenyan embassies abroad.

The legislatureEdit

The legislative branch is bicameral and will constitute of the following

An upper house – the SenateEdit

  • Each of the 47 counties will have a Senator
  • A senator will be elected by the voters.
  • Tentative total number of Senators will be 60.
  • Presides over presidential impeachment hearings (article 145)

A lower house – the National AssemblyEdit

  • Each constituency (290 the number gazetted by Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission in October 2012).
  • Majority of the Members of National Assembly will be directly elected by voters
  • There will be a Women's Representative MP elected from each county – therefore guaranteeing a minimum of 47 women MPs in the National Assembly.
  • Tentative total number of MPs will be 347.
  • Votes to investigate and impeach the president (article 145)

County Assemblies and Executive

  • The country will be divided to approximately 47 counties – the counties are comparable to the current districts.
  • Each county will have a County Executive headed by a county governor elected directly by the people and;
  • A county assembly elected with representatives from wards within the county.


There will be three superior courts:

  • Supreme Court – highest judiciary organ consisting of the Chief Justice, the Deputy Chief Justice and five other judges. This court will handle appeals from the Appeals and Constitutional courts. It will also preside over presidential impeachment proceedings.
  • Court of Appeal – will handle appeal cases from the High Court and as prescribed by Parliament. It will constitute not less than 12 judges and will be headed by a president appointed by the chief justice.

An independent Judicial Service Commission has been set up to handle the appointment of judges. They will recommend a list of persons to be appointed as judges by the president (this article will be enforced after the transitional period). The commission will consist of the following:

  • A Supreme Court judge – elected by members of the Supreme Court to chair the commission
  • Court of Appeal judge – elected by members of the Court of Appeals to chair the commission
  • The Attorney-General
  • Two advocates, one a woman and one a man, each of whom has at least fifteen years' experience, nominated by the statutory body responsible for the professional regulation of advocates
  • One person nominated by the Public Service Commission.[22]

Attorney General

  • Shall be appointed by the president – with approval from the National Assembly
  • Hold office for only one term of not more than 6 years.


Devolution to the county governments will only be autonomous in implementation of distinct functions as listed in the Fourth Schedule (Part 2). This is in contrast with the Federal System in which Sovereignty is Constitutionally divided between the Federal government and the States. The Kenyan Devolution system still maintains a Unitary Political Concept as a result of distribution of functions between the two levels of government under the Fourth schedule and also as result of Article 192 which gives the president the power to suspend a county government under certain conditions.

A conflict of laws between the two levels of government is dealt with under Article 191 where National legislation will in some cases override County legislation. The relationship between the National Government and the Counties can be seen as that of a Principal and a limited autonomy Agent as opposed to an Agent and Agent relation in the Federal System.

More checks and balances have been introduced as requirements for accountability of both levels of government. The Parliament( Senate and National Assembly) has much discretion on the budgetary allocations to the County Governments. Every Five years the Senate receives recommendations from the Commission of Revenue Allocation (Article 217) and a resolution is passed on the criteria for Revenue allocation.

The National Government is constitutionally barred from intruding wilfully with the county government role and function under the Fourth Schedule. Exceptions may require parliamentary approval (Article 191 and 192). The National Government has a role to play in the County level by performing all the other functions that are not assigned to the County Government[23] as listed on the Fourth Schedule (Part 1).

List of presidentsEdit


The president is elected by popular vote in the general election held during August every 5 years. For the first time in the history of any African country, the 2017 general election was annulled. For the election of the president to be determined valid, they must have[24][25]

  • More than half of all the votes cast in the election
  • At least twenty-five per cent of the votes cast in each of more than half of the counties.[26]

Latest electionEdit

2017 presidential electionEdit

Candidate Running mate Party Votes % of valid votes cast
Uhuru Kenyatta William Ruto Jubilee Party of Kenya 7,483,895 98.26
Raila Odinga Kalonzo Musyoka National Super Alliance 73,228 0.96
Ekuru Aukot Emmanuel Nzai Thirdway Alliance Kenya 21,333 0.28
Abduba Dida Titus Ngetuny Alliance for Real Change 14,107 0.19
Japheth Kaluyu Muthiora Kariara Independent 8,261 0.11
Michael Mwaura Miriam Mutua Independent 6,007 0.08
Joseph Nyagah Moses Marango Independent 5,554 0.07
Cyrus Jirongo Joseph Momanyi United Democratic Party 3,832 0.05
Invalid/blank votes 37,713
Total 100
Registered voters/turnout 7,616,217 38.84
Source: IEBC

2017 general electionsEdit

Candidate Running mate Party Votes % of valid votes cast
Uhuru Kenyatta William Ruto Jubilee Party of Kenya 8,203,290 54.27
Raila Odinga Kalonzo Musyoka National Super Alliance 6,762,334 44.74
Joseph Nyagah Moses Marango Independent 42,259 0.28
Abduba Dida Titus Ngetuny Alliance for Real Change 38,093 0.25
Ekuru Aukot Emmanuel Nzai Thirdway Alliance Kenya 27,311 0.18
Japheth Kaluyu Muthiora Kariara Independent 16,482 0.11
Michael Mwaura Miriam Mutua Independent 13,257 0.09
Cyrus Jirongo Joseph Momanyi United Democratic Party 11,705 0.08
Invalid/blank votes
Total 100
Registered voters/turnout 19,743,716
Source: IEBC

Presidential standardsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ See Preston Chitere, Ludeki Chweya, Japhet Masya, Arne Tostensen and Kamotho Waiganjo, "Kenya Constitutional Documents: A Comparative Analysis" Chr. Michelsen Institute, 2006, for a chronology of constitutional negotiations.


  1. ^ Today, Business (18 May 2017). "Top earners: President Uhuru and Deputy President Ruto salaries".
  2. ^ "131. Authority of the President - Kenya Law Reform Commission (KLRC)". Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  3. ^ "14. Citizenship by birth - Kenya Law Reform Commission (KLRC)". Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  4. ^ a b "137. Qualifications and disqualifications for election as President - Kenya Law Reform Commission (KLRC)". Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  5. ^ "Electoral Process in Kenya | Kenya Law". Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  6. ^ "NationalAssemblyandPresidentialElectionsActCap7" (PDF). Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  7. ^ "Electoral Process in Kenya | Kenya Law". Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  8. ^ "Elections Act 24 of 2011 Kenya" (PDF). Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  9. ^ "142. Term of office of President - Kenya Law Reform Commission (KLRC)". Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  10. ^ "The Constitution | The Presidency". Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  11. ^ "The Powers and Functions of the President of Kenya". AfroCave. 8 March 2019. Retrieved 13 August 2020.
  12. ^ a b c d "132. Functions of the President - Kenya Law Reform Commission (KLRC)". Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  13. ^ "Executive Office of the President | The Presidency". Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  14. ^ "Kenya". Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  15. ^ "133. Power of mercy - Kenya Law Reform Commission (KLRC)". Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  16. ^ Kenya Law (2011). "Kenya Law" (PDF). Kenya Law. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  17. ^ "Proposal to have police, NIS, DPP in Power of Mercy panel misconceived, unconstitutional". Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  18. ^ "Functions of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights". AfroCave. 20 July 2019. Retrieved 13 August 2020.
  19. ^ "The Vertical Process of Sharing National Revenue in Kenya". AfroCave. 25 May 2020. Retrieved 13 August 2020.
  20. ^ "Functions of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission Kenya". AfroCave. 19 January 2019. Retrieved 13 August 2020.
  21. ^ "Who is a Public Officer and a State Officer in Kenya?". AfroCave. 10 February 2020. Retrieved 13 August 2020.
  22. ^ "Powers and Functions of the Public Service Commission Kenya". AfroCave. 10 August 2019. Retrieved 13 August 2020.
  23. ^ "The Role and Functions of County Governments in Kenya". AfroCave. 6 August 2019. Retrieved 13 August 2020.
  24. ^ "138. Procedure at presidential election - Kenya Law Reform Commission (KLRC)". Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  25. ^ "URAIA Handbook on Elective positions in Kenya" (PDF). Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  26. ^ "136. Election of the President - Kenya Law Reform Commission (KLRC)". Retrieved 24 May 2020.

External linksEdit