Page last updated at 18:17 GMT, Thursday, 29 January 2009

Somali presidential profiles

Somalia's MPs are meeting in neighbouring Djibouti to elect a new president of the transitional government.

At least 14 men are competing for the post, which follows the resignation of Abdullahi Yusuf in December 2008.

However, different Islamist groups now control most of southern Somalia, including Baidoa, the seat of parliament and the capital, Mogadishu so the new man may not have much real power in the short-term.

Here are some of the main contenders:

Nur Hassan Hussein (Nur Adde)

He is the current prime minister.

Nur Hassan Hussein
Nur Hassan Hussein is the current prime minister.

Observers of the Somali political scene say Nur Adde is the one member of the government capable of attracting international support for the country.

He is reported to have the backing of the United States.

Nur Adde is from the Abgaal sub-clan of the Hawiye, one of Somalia's four most powerful clans.

He was the country's chief police officer in charge of planning and training under President Muhammad Siad Barre, whose regime collapsed in 1991, leaving the country in anarchy for more than a decade.

After law studies at Mogadishu National University and Fiscal Law School in Rome, Nur Adde became attorney-general, a post he held until 1991.

He then served as secretary-general of the Somali Red Crescent Society (SRCS), a post which gained him wide respect.

Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed

Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmad
Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmad is a moderate Islamist leader
Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed is the leader of the moderate Djibouti-based wing of the Islamist ARS.

He is also a member of the Abgaal clan.

He was chairman of the Islamic Courts' Union which ran Mogadishu in 2006, until it was ousted by Ethiopian troops.

He says he wants to make peace with Ethiopia, recruit Islamist militia fighters into a national security force, and rebuild the country's social services.

He told Reuters news agency that he was prepared to discuss any political or religious issues with insurgents still fighting in Somalia.

Ali Mohammed Ghedi

Ali Mohammed Gedi
Ali Mohammed Ghedi was Somalia's prime minister from 2004 to 2007
Ali Mohammed Ghedi was Somalia's prime minister from 2004 to 2007.

He was relatively unknown in political circles upon his appointment.

Like Nur Adde and Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmad, he is also from the Abgaal sub-clan of the Hawiye.

He was portrayed as a man with a "clean slate" who could foster reconciliation between the country's warring clans.

Mr Ghedi was unable to end the long-running civil war during his three-year stint.

Mr Ghedi announced his resignation in October 2007, citing differences with President Yusuf.

He remains a member of parliament.

BBC Monitoringselects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.

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