Vote counting underway in Blantyre, Malawi. The country went to the polls to elect a new president in which 78-year-old President Peter Mutharika is seeking re-election to a second term. File picture: Thoko Chikondi/AP

Blantyre - Malawi's main opposition party on Saturday obtained an injunction to restrain the electoral commission from announcing final results of the May 21 presidential poll.

The electoral commission should first investigate all 147 complaints made about the conduct of the election, said Malawi Congress Party (MCP) secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka.

The electoral commission was expected to announce on Saturday the results of the poll, which it had described as a close call between incumbent Peter Mutharika of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and MCP candidate Lazarus Chakwera.

The injunction comes after the electoral commission on Thursday announced that President Mutharika was in the lead after 75 per cent of the votes were counted in this week's election.

Official results showed Mutharika had captured 40 per cent of the ballots cast in the southern African nation, putting him on track for a second term.

Former Christian pastor Chakwera, Mutharika's main challenger, followed with 35 per cent of the vote, the electoral commission said.

Malawi's 6.8 million voters also elected a new parliament and local government councillors in the poverty-stricken former British colony.

About 70 per cent of Malawi's population of roughly 20 million people live on under 2 dollars a day, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The nation is also still reeling from Cyclone Idai, which caused dozens of deaths and devastation in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe in March. 

dpa