The Evolution of the Presidential Oath 



The Evolution of the Presidential Oath 

On 13 September 2022, Kenyans will witness as President-elect William Ruto is sworn into office. Ruto will take two oaths administered by the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary, Anne Amadi, in the presence of the Chief Justice, Martha Koome. The first oath will pledge allegiance to the Constitution while the second is the solemn affirmation of due execution of the office of president – as envisaged in Article 141 (3) of the Constitution. 


The Oath of Office is a requirement of law and every President-elect, whether newly elected or re-elected, is expected to take it before assuming office. Nonetheless, the words in the oath have changed a few times throughout history. 


For instance, when Kenya attained independence in 1963, Jomo Kenyatta, who was being sworn in as Prime Minister, while taking the oath of office, swore allegiance to “Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, her heirs and successors, according to law.”


Following Mzee Kenyatta’s death on 22 August 1978, his then Vice President, Daniel arap Moi, was sworn into office as the second President of the Republic of Kenya on 14 October 1978. His oath of office was slightly different from that of President Kenyatta. In Moi’s presidential oath, which was taken in Kiswahili, he pledged allegiance to the Republic of Kenya and swore to protect the Constitution, unlike Kenyatta’s fealty to the Queen.


“Mimi Daniel Toroitich arap Moi, naapa kwamba nitakuwa muaminifu kwa Jamhuri ya Kenya na kuitumikia kwa moyo wangu wote; na kwamba nitahifadhi, nitalinda, na kuitetea Katiba ya Kenya kwa mujibu wa sheria iliyowekwa. Ewe Mwenyezi Mungu nisaidie.”


When it came to the third Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Kenya, Stanley Emilio Mwai Kibaki, who was sworn in on 30 December 2002, he took the same oath of office as that of President Moi. However, on 9 April 2013 when Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn in as President, the new Head of State subscribed to a different oath.


Upon the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution, the Third schedule that outlines the National Oaths and Affirmations to be taken by the President-elect, Deputy President-elect and all state officers, was introduced. With this, the President-elect had to take two oaths: the oath of allegiance and the oath of office. President Kenyatta was the first to take the new oath of office as set out in the Third Schedule.


These are the same oaths to be taken by President-elect, William Ruto. They are as follows:


I, ……………. , in full realisation of the high calling I assume as President/Acting President/ Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya, do swear/solemnly affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Republic of Kenya; that I will obey, preserve, protect and defend this Constitution of Kenya, as by law established, and all other laws of the Republic; and that I will protect and uphold the sovereignty, integrity and dignity of the people of Kenya. (In the case of an oath–– So help me God.)


I, ……………… , swear/solemnly affirm that I will truly and diligently serve the people and the Republic of Kenya in the office of the President/ Acting President of the Republic of Kenya; that I will diligently discharge my duties and perform my functions in the Office of President/Acting President of the Republic of Kenya; and I will do justice to all in accordance with this Constitution, as by law established, and the laws of Kenya, without fear, favour, affection or ill-will. (In the case of an oath–– So help me God.)

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