Seif Sharif Hamad, Civic United Front (CUF)
Ali Mohamed Shein, Cahama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM)
AFTER decades of political turmoil, Zanzibar is scheduled to hold a historic presidential election on Sunday to choose a successor to outgoing President Amani Abeid Karume.
For the first time in Zanzibar's colonial and post Revolution history, both the presidential candidates in the election hail from Pemba Island.
This means that for the first time since its independence in 1964, Zanzibar will have a president from the smaller of the two islands.
Unguja has traditionally dominated Zanzibar's economic and political setup, triggering longstanding complaints from residents of Pemba Island.
Thanks to a referendum passed into law earlier this year, following a gradual rapprochement between the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) and opposition Civic United Front (CUF), a coalition government will be formed after the election.
"This is the first time in Zanzibar since the colonial and post colonial period that the country will hold peaceful elections," said Prof. Palamagamba Kabudi, dean of the University of Dar es Salaam's faculty of law.
"The margin of victory in Zanzibar is expected to be very small by which ever party that wins the election. This is typical for many island nations where the population is small and the voters are few."
There are less than 500,000 registered voters in Zanzibar's presidential election compared to the 19.6 million voters in mainland Tanzania.
Zanzibar is holding its presidential election on the same day with mainland Tanzania.
Analysts say a close result is expected in Zanzibar where Seif Sharif Hamad of CUF is locked neck and neck for the presidency with the ruling CCM party's Ali Mohamed Shein.
"This is also the first time that both presidential candidates are from Pemba. There will be no winner or loser in this election because CCM and CUF have agreed to the formation of a coalition government after the election," said Prof. Kabudi.
"Unlike mainland Tanzania, there are no undecided voters in Zanzibar. Voters there are equally split between supporters of the ruling party and opposition party."
Following are short profiles on each of the two leading candidates.
SEIF SHARIF HAMAD, CIVIC UNITED FRONT (CUF)
* The 67-year old Hamad was expelled from the ruling CCM party in 1988 after serving in senior government positions, including Zanzibar Chief Minister (1984-1988). He was jailed for 30 months on political charges (1989-1991) before his conviction was overturned by the appeals court.
* He has run for the Zanzibar presidency three times since 1995 and lost by small margins to the ruling CCM party. The CUF has consistently accused CCM of vote rigging, claiming it was robbed of outright victory in all the past three elections.
* Hamad graduated from the University of Dar es Salaam in 1975 with a degree in political science, public administration and international relations.
* He was born in the smaller Pemba Island in the Zanzibar archipelago where he enjoys strong support. The CUF also has considerable support in the larger Unguja Island.
* He has promised to improve social services, fix the economy, raise salaries of public workers, seek more autonomy for Zanzibar and foster close ties with Islamic countries. About 99 percent of Zanzibar's estimated population of one million are Muslims.
ALI MOHAMED SHEIN, CHAMA CHA MAPINDUZI (CCM)
* The outgoing Vice-President of the Union government has a PhD in biochemistry and metabolism from the Medical School University of Newcastle Upontyne.
* The soft-spoken Shein is widely respected and is among a few
politicians with a clean record in government. But he is not considered charismatic nor a rousing orator.
* He was catapulted to the national political spotlight from relative obscurity as a Zanzibar cabinet minister after being appointed Tanzania's vice-president in 2001 following the death of former VP Omar Ali Juma.
* Shein, aged 62, was born in Pemba like his CUF presidential rival and has pledged to improve the living conditions of the people if elected president. He is expected to make some inroads in the island that has traditionally been the opposition's power base.
* He has promised to consolidate the work of previous CCM governments and improve Zanzibar's economy, which relies on tourism.