This is a list of the heads of state of Ghana, from the independence of Ghana in 1957 to the present day. From 1957 to 1960 the head of state under the Constitution of 1957 was the queen of Ghana, Elizabeth II, who was also the queen of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms. The monarch was represented in Ghana by a governor-general. Ghana became a republic within the Commonwealth under the Constitution of 1960 and the monarch and governor-general were replaced by an executive president.
The succession to the throne was the same as the succession to the British throne.
- Queen Elizabeth II (born 1926) – Reign start 6 March 1957 – Reign end 1 July 1960 (Royal House Windsor)
- Kwame Nkrumah (1909–1972)
Governor-general in Ghana
The governor-general was the representative of the monarch in Ghana 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 Ghana was granted independence by the Ghana Independence Act 1957, rather than being first established as a semi-autonomous Dominion and later promoted to independence by the Statute of Westminster 1931, the governor-general was to be always appointed solely on the advice of the Cabinet of Ghana without the involvement of the British government, with the sole exception of Charles Arden-Clarke, the former colonial governor, who served as governor-general temporarily until he was replaced by William Hare. In the event of a vacancy the chief justice served as officer administering the government.
- Sir Charles Arden-Clarke (1898–1962) – Took office 6 March 1957 – Left office 14 May 1957
- Sir Kobina Arku Korsah (1894–1967) – Took office 14 May 1957 – Left office 13 November 1957
- The Rt. Hon. The Earl of Listowel (1906–1997) – Took office 13 November 1957 – Left office 1 July 1960
Ghana First Republic (1960–1966)
Under the Constitution of 1960, the first constitution of the Republic of Ghana, the president replaced the monarch as executive head of state. The president was elected by Parliament for a 5-year term. In the event of a vacancy three members of the Cabinet served jointly as acting president.
- Kwame Nkrumah (1909–1972) Elected 1960 1964 (referendum.) -Took office 1 July 1960 , Left office 26 February 1966 (deposed.) (5 years, 240 days) Convention People’s Party.
Military rule (1966–1969)
Lieutenant-General Joseph Arthur Ankrah led a coup d’état which overthrew President Nkrumah and his government, all political parties and Parliament were also dissolved.
- Lieutenant-General Joseph Arthur Ankrah (1915–1992) – Took office 24 February 1966, Left office 2 April 1969 (resigned.)
- Brigadier Akwasi Afrifa (1936–1979) Took office 2 April 1969, Left office 3 September 1969
Second Republic (1969–1972)
- Brigadier Akwasi Afrifa (1936–1979) – Took office 3 September 1969, Left office 7 August 1970
- Nii Amaa Ollennu(1906–1986) – Took office 7 August 1970, Left office 31 August 1970
- Edward Akufo-Addo (1906–1979) – Took office 31 August 1970, Left office 13 January 1972(deposed.)
Ghana Military rule (1972–1979)
General Ignatius Kutu Acheampong led a coup d’état which overthrew President Akufo-Addo, Prime Minister Abrefa Busia and his government, all political parties and Parliament were also dissolved. Lieutenant General Fred Akuffo led a coup d’état which overthrew General Acheampong, then Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings led a coup d’état which overthrown the Supreme Military Council.
- General Ignatius Kutu Acheampong (1931–1979) – Took office 13 January 1972 Left office 9 October 1975
- Lieutenant-General Fred Akuffo (1937–1979) – Took office 5 July 1978 Left office 4 June 1979 (deposed.)
- Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings (1947–2020) – Took office 4 June 1979 Left office 24 September 1979
Third Republic (1979–1981)
Under the Constitution of 1979 the president was head of both state and government. The president was directly elected and served a four-year term that expired at the next general election; a president might serve a maximum of two terms. In the event of a vacancy the vice-president served as acting president.
- Hilla Limann (1934–1998) Took office 24 September 1979 – Left office 31 December 1981 (deposed.)
Military rule (1981–1993)
Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings led a coup d’état which overthrew President Limann and his government, all political parties and Parliament were also dissolved.
- Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings (1947–2020) Took office 31 December 1981 – Left office 7 January 1993 Political party – Provisional National Defence Council
Fourth Republic (1993–present)
Under the current Constitution the president is head of both state and government. The president is directly elected and serves a four-year term that expires at the next general election; a president may serve a maximum of two terms. In the event of a vacancy, the vice-president serves the remaining time as the president.
- Jerry Rawlings (1947–2020) – Took office 7 January 1993, Left office 7 January 2001
- John Kufuor (born 1938) – Took office 7 January 2001, Left office 7 January 2009
- John Atta Mills (1944–2012) – Took office 7 January 2009, Left office 24 July 2012 (died in office.)
- John Mahama (born 1958) – Took office 24 July 2012, Left office 7 January 2017
- Nana Akufo-Addo (born 1944) – Took office 7 January 2017, Left office Incumbent
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