Elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Sunday could herald the first peaceful transfer of power in the country's turbulent history, or disputed results could lead to violence.
For many Congolese, 40 million of whom are eligible to vote, the outcome of the upcoming poll is a given.
"We're in need of change," Henry Mbuya, a taxi driver in the capital Kinshasa, told dpa. "Unfortunately we won't get it as the elections will be rigged in favour of Kabila's protege."
Mbuya was referring to ruling party candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, seen by some as a proxy for President Joseph Kabila, who after 17 years in power couldn't run again.
Kabila, who was supposed to step down in 2016, delayed elections for two years, which led to furious street protests often supported by the country's influential Catholic church.
Although 21 individuals are contesting the vote, Shadary is tipped to win against a divided opposition, which is fielding two main candidates: Felix Tshisekedi and Martin Fayulu.
Both told dpa they don't believe the elections will be free and fair.
"These elections will not be free because Kabila is afraid of us. He tries to do everything to prevent us from campaigning well," Tshisekedi said.
Fayulu echoed his opponent, saying "free elections never existed in the DRC."
The opposition has expressed concern over new voting machines from South Korea, which they say could allow voter fraud.
A fire this month, believed to have been started on purpose, destroyed thousands of the machines stored in a Kinshasa warehouse, leading some to question whether the vote will even go ahead.
While some Congolese told dpa that what they really want is a break from the status quo, Shadary's spokesman vowed the ruling party candidate would be just like his predecessor.
"Shadary will not be different from Kabila... Shadary will be the man who will continue the work of Kabila, nothing else," Lambert Mende told dpa.
Alex Vines, head of the Africa program at London-based think-tank Chatham House, told dpa that there are parts of the country where democratic elections will be difficult to ensure.
"This could certainly be the first peaceful transfer of power - whether it will be democratic will be more difficult to assess," Vines said.
On the streets of Kinshasa, colourful political rallies have been taking place, however state-affiliated media is focusing on the ruling party ones.
Some opposition rallies in the provinces have been met with violence and several people have been killed.
After gaining independence from brutal colonial ruler Belgium in 1960, Congo saw a series of political mutinies, murders and coups, leading to the presidency of Mobutu Sese Seko.
After years of misrule, Mobutu was eventually deposed in 1997 by Laurent Kabila, the current president's father. When the elder Kabila was assassinated in 2001, his son took the helm.
The central African nation is home to numerous militias, some fighting along ethnic lines and others over lucrative mineral resources.
Congo has abundant deposits of copper, gold and diamonds, as well as cobalt and coltan, highly sought-after minerals used in a range of products including smart phones and electric car batteries.
The mineral wealth has not trickled down and millions of Congolese remain mired in poverty. The country lacks basic infrastructure and 77 per cent of Congolese live below the poverty line, according to the World Bank.
The past few years have also seen a hunger crisis in the region of Kasai, where millions of people faced severe food shortages and displacement due to conflict.
Meanwhile eastern Congo is in the midst of the second-worst Ebola outbreak in history, which has so far seen over 500 people infected.
Despite concerns the virus could hamper voting in the region, the health ministry has vowed polling will go ahead in Ebola-affected areas, and says authorities are ensuring all polling stations are provided with hygiene kits.
Musa, a motorcycle taxi driver in the eastern town of Goma, was disillusioned when asked about the elections, saying the ruling party candidate would win whether he cast his vote or not.
"It's just a waste of time, we all know who is going to win," he said.
Australian Associated Press