August 17, 2012
More than 35 candidates are vying for country's top position. Below is a summary of the most prominent presidential candidates:
Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed is the current president of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) whose term ends on August 20th.
Ahmed was born in 1964 near the city of Jowhar, where he attended primary education. He later moved to Mogadishu and completed secondary education at Sheikh Sufi Secondary School.
In 1992, Ahmed enrolled at the University of Kordofan in Sudan and transferred two years later to Open University in Libya, graduating in 1998 from the College of Sharia and Law. He taught Geography, Arabic and Religious Studies at Juba Secondary School until 2004, when he was nominated to lead the Islamic Courts Union (ICU).
The ICU was an alliance comprising regional Sharia courts that controlled most of southern Somalia.
In 2007, Ahmed left the ICU and with other former members founded an opposition group called the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia. He later entered into UN sponsored negotiations with the transitional government under the late President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, and joined Somalia's transitional parliament.
Ahmed was elected to succeed Yusuf after the latter resigned in December 2008. Ahmed took office January 31, 2009.
President Ahmed speaks Somali and Arabic.
Abdiweli Mohamed Ali was born in the late 1950s. After completing his secondary school education, he attended the Somali National University and obtained a bachelor's degree in economics in 1984.
He was the director of the tax department at the Ministry of Finance and Revenue from the mid-to-late 1980s. From 1988 to 1991, he was an assistant director at the Research and Statistics department at the Ministry of Finance and Revenue.
After that, he immigrated to the United States to continue his higher education.
He received his master's degree from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee in 1988 and then obtained another master's degree in public administration from Harvard University in 1999.
He received his Ph.D. in economics from George Mason University in Virginia in 2000.
In 2003, Ali taught economics at Niagara University in New York until he joined Somalia's transitional government as deputy prime minister and minister of planning and international cooperation.
He was appointed as prime minister in June 2011 after Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo resigned.
Ali is highly experienced in academia and academic research, development and economic politics as well as financial and public administration. He worked for several international agencies including The World Bank and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
Before returning to Somalia in 2010, Ali was a member of the American Economic Association and Atlantic Economic Society.
Ali speaks Somali, English and Italian and holds dual Somali and US citizenship.
Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aadan was born in 1946 in Bardaale to a family originally from the Bay and Bakool regions.
Aadan entered politics in 2004 when he was elected speaker of the parliament in Somalia's transitional government. He held that position until 2007 when he was ousted for holding unauthorized talks with members of the Islamic Courts Union.
Aadan was appointed deputy prime minister and minister of finance when President Ahmed took office in 2009, and became one of the most prominent figures in the cabinet of former Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke.
In May 2010, the Somali parliament re-elected Aadan as its speaker.
Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo was born in 1962 in Mogadishu to a family originally from Gedo in south-western Somalia.
In 1985, he was appointed as first secretary at the Somali embassy in Washington DC.
In 1989, he left to earn his bachelor's degree in history from the University of Buffalo in New York. During this time, Farmajo applied for political asylum in the United States after the government collapsed in 1991.
He continued his studies at the University at Buffalo and obtained a master's degree in political sciences and international relations.
After becoming an American citizen, he went on to hold several jobs in New York state, including at the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority, the Erie County Division of Equal Employment Opportunity, and the New York State Department of Transportation.
President Ahmed appointed Farmajo as prime minister in October 2010 to succeed Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, who resigned from his post following a dispute.
Farmajo resigned from this post in June 2011 under pressure from the international community as part of the Kampala Accord between President Ahmed and the Speaker of Parliament Aadan, during which the mandate of the transitional institutions was extended to August 20, 2012.
In 2011, Farmajo founded a new political party, the Somali Justice and Equality Party, also known as Tayo.
Farmajo is currently secretary general for Tayo, which is chaired by Dr. Mariam Qasim, his former minister of women's affairs. Tayo is the first Somali political party headed by a woman.
Farmajo speaks Somali and English and holds dual Somali and US citizenship.
Ali Mohamed Ghedi was born in Mogadishu in 1952.
After finishing his secondary school education, he entered Somali National University in Mogadishu and graduated with a bachelor's degree in veterinary sciences. He later travelled to Italy to further his education with a two-year scholarship at the University of Pisa in 1979.
In 1981, Ghedi returned to Mogadishu where he taught at the Somali National University College of Veterinary Medicine, eventually becoming its head until the government collapse of 1991.
Ghedi served as prime minister of Somalia's Transitional Federal Government under the administration of President Abdullahi Yusuf from 2004 to 2007, when he resigned.
This is the second time that Ghedi is running for the presidency; the first was in 2009, but he withdrew his nomination.
Ghedi speaks Somali, Italian and English.
Abdirahman Abdullahi Baadiyow was born in 1954 in Galguduud in central Somalia.
Baadiyow joined the Somali National Army in 1971, reaching the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and remained in active duty until 1986, when he decided to leave the military due to President Siad Barre's military response against clan-based armed factions that were emerging against his regime.
After leaving the armed forces, he enrolled at McGill University in Canada where he earned a master's degree and a PhD in Islamic studies.
He returned to Somalia in 1993 as the East Africa regional director of Mercy-USA for Aid and Development, a non-profit organisation that works to provide relief and promotes economic and educational development. While with Mercy-USA, Baadiyow worked in health and education until 2007, establishing primary and secondary schools as well as health centres in the region.
In 1996, he co-founded Mogadishu University where he serves as the current chairman of the Board of Trustees.
In 2000, Baadiyow took part in the Somalia National Peace Conference held in Djibouti and was selected as a member of the Technical Committee charged with overseeing the charter for the Transitional National Government.
Baadiyow speaks Somali and English and holds dual Somali and Canadian citizenship.
Ahmed Ismail Samatar is a prominent academic who has lived in the United States for over 30 years.
He is the current James Wallace Professor of International Studies at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where he also served as the Dean of International Studies and Programming, and as the founding Dean of the Institute for Global Citizenship.
Samatar's expertise is in the areas of global political economy, political and social thought and African development. He has authored five books and published over 30 articles. He received a PhD in 1984 from the University of Denver.
He has lectured at various universities including the Somali National University, London School of Economics and Political Science, Cornel University, Harvard University, University of Amsterdam, and the University of Otago.
Samatar is originally from the northern region of the country and opposes Somaliland's unilateral separation from the rest of the country.
He is the current leader of the Hiil Qaran political party, and one among 13 presidential hopefuls who have formed a coalition called National Association for Change. The group has struck a unity deal and will nominate one of its members as the presidential candidate.
Samatar holds dual Somali and US citizenship and speaks Somali, Arabic and English.
Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is an academic and political and civic activist who has worked for several national and international peace and development organizations.
Mohamud graduated from the Somali National University in 1981 and then went on to study in India where he obtained a master's degree from Bhopal University in 1988.
In 1993, Mohamud worked for the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund as an education officer in south and central Somalia until the departure of the United Nations Operation in Somalia forces in 1995.
In 1999, he co-founded the Somali Institute of Management and Administration Development in Mogadishu, which later evolved into Simad University, and served as its dean until 2010.
In 2011, he founded the Peace and Development Party and currently serves as its chairman.
Mohamud speaks Somali and English.
Yusuf Garaad Omar is a veteran journalist and former director of the BBC Somali Service in London.
Omar was born in 1960 in Mogadishu's Hamar Jajab district and completed his secondary education in Mogadishu. He attended the Somali National University where he studied French and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics.
He joined Radio Mogadishu in 1984 where he worked until the collapse of the central government.
In 1990, Omar immigrated to Italy and attended the University of Siena to pursue advanced studies in anthropology. He joined the BBC Somali Service in 1992, initially working as a freelance reporter from Italy. He became the head of the unit in 2000.
Omar holds dual Somali and British citizenship and speaks Somali, English, Italian and French.
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