As Somalia takes its first tentative steps towards forming a government after 13 years of civil war, BBC News Online profiles the main contenders amongst the 28 candidates standing in the presidential polls on 10 October 2004.
Abdulkassim Salat Hassan
Outgoing transitional President Abdulkassim Salat Hassan is a career politician who served in former President Siad Barre's regime as deputy prime minister and in various other ministerial posts.
After Mr Barre was ousted in 1991, Mr Hassan went into exile in Egypt, but returned to work with grassroots groups on peace.
Abdulkassim Salat Hassan is known for his sense of humour
He was appointed by clan chiefs and other senior figures to head a three-year transitional national government (TNG) in 2000.
Weeks before the TNG's mandate was due to expire in August 2003, Mr Hassan pulled out of talks in Kenya on forging the new government.
He was later brought back on board, but refusing to stand down as the transitional president until the new government is formed.
A good orator, the 62-year-old is from the Hawiye clan - one of Somalia's six major clans - and is well known for his good sense of humour.
He enjoys strong support from Arab countries as well as Djibouti and Eritrea.
In his early 70s, Abdullahi Yusuf is a powerful warlord and president of the Somali semi-autonomous region of Puntland.
Abdullahi Yusuf started his jungle war from Ethiopia
A soldier by profession, he was once a senior officer in the Somali armed forces during Mr Barre's regime.
He refused to co-operate with the military rulers and rejected an offer of a diplomatic posting.
His plot to overthrow President Barre in April 1978 failed and he was forced to flee the country to Ethiopia.
From there he started a jungle war and continued his bid to unseat Barre.
He is a member of the Ethiopian-backed Somali Reconstruction and Restoration Council (SRRC) - a loose coalition of opposition warlords, which was the main challenge to the TNG.
From one of the six major clans - the Darood - his approach to leadership is thought to be authoritarian and he is said to have strong support from the Ethiopian government for his presidential bid.
From the Hawiye clan in central Somalia, Abdullahi Adow is known for his work as a financier and diplomat.
A one-time governor of the Central of Bank of Somalia, he was also a finance minister under President Barre.
Abdullahi Adow was the runner-up for the post of transitional president in 2000
During the early 1970s he made Somali ambassador to the United States and was based in Washington for a decade.
The 64-year-old is not known for his charisma, but is viewed by some as a consensus candidate, capable of fostering closer ties between rival clans.
In 2000, he was the runner-up for the post of transitional president, which he lost to Abdulkassim Salat Hassan.
He reportedly has Kenyan and US backing for his presidential bid this time round.
Mohamed Qanyare Afrah
Mogadishu-based warlord turned politician Mohamed Qanyare Afrah has served in several aborted administrations since the fall of Siad Barre.
But since 2000 he has been the fisheries minister under the transitional national government.
Mohamed Qanyare Afrah is a successful businessman
From the Hawiye clan, he is also a successful businessman and ran a transportation company in Kenya.
Now he is the owner of one of Mogadishu's busy private airports, which opened up after international airport's landing stripe was mined during the civil war.
A witty orator, the 63-year-old is standing as an independent candidate.