Here are some of the key figures.
SHARIF SHEIKH AHMED. President since 2009, the former geography teacher is one of the strongest candidates, despite criticism by many that he has amassed a giant campaign chest through rampant corruption, claims he rejects. Former Islamist colleagues with the Al-Qaeda linked Shebab insurgents have since vowed to kill the cleric for leading the Western-backed government. He comes from the town of Jowhar and belongs to the Abgaal branch of the Hawiye clan, a prominent clan in central Somalia and Mogadishu.
ABDIWELI MOHAMED ALI. Prime minister in the last administration, the US-educated economist hails from the northern Puntland region. He is also seen as another possible winner.
ADULLAHI MOHAMED FARMAJO. A former prime minister from the Marehan Darod clan in southern Somalia’s Gedo region, Farmajo is reportedly popular on the streets of Mogadishu but is not seen as a likely winner. He was educated in Somalia and the US.
ABDULLAHI AHMED ADDOW. Former finance minister under toppled dictator Siad Barre and ambassador to the US, Addow hails from southern Somalia and the Habar Gedir sub-clan of the Hawiye.
ABDIRAHMAN MOALIM ABDULLAHI BADIYOW. A former army colonel and senior leader of the Al-Islah party, Somalia’s Muslim Brotherhood.
ABDIWELI ELMI OMAR GONJEH. Former deputy prime minister and transport minister in the transitional government, from the Majarteen sub-clan of the Darod.
AHMED ISMAIL SAMATAR. A formidable academic specialising in international politics and economics, a Fulbright scholar and author of multiple books on Somalia, Samatar took a leave of absence as a professor at Macalester College, in the US state of Minnesota, to contend for the top post.
YUSUF GARAD. A respected journalist who once worked for Radio Mogadishu, Garad retired as head of the BBC’s Somali service to compete for the presidency. After a first degree in Mogadishu, he studied in Italy and France, before completing a masters degree in international affairs in the US.