Gamal Abdel Nasser had already been acting head of state for Egypt since 14 November 1954 as Chairman of the Revolutionary Council (as well as taking over from Muhammad Naguib for three days in February 1954) when he was elected as president on 23 June 1956. He took office officially two days later on 25 June.
Nasser was the power behind the Free Officers Movement which seized power in 1953, bringing an end to the British-backed monarchy and turning Egypt into a republic. A consummate statesman, he played Western powers against the Soviets in order to gain considerable concessions for his country. Nasser seized the Suez Canal on 26 July 1956 - the resultant international crisis, in which Israeli, French, and British troops carried out a Tripartite Invasion of the Canal Zone and Sinai region, was a beacon to the rest of Africa in the struggle for independence.
Nasser was president of Egypt until his death on 28 September 1970 when he was succeeded by Anwar Sadat.