LILONGWE — Official results for Tuesday’s poll have not yet been declared by Malawi’s electoral commission.
But state broadcaster MBC says opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera is leading with 59% of the vote.
President Peter Mutharika, who wants a second term, has 38%, it says.
A third candidate who was not regarded as a serious contender, Peter Kuwani, is said to have received less than 2% of votes.
Last year Malawi became the second African nation to annul a presidential election over irregularities, after Kenya in 2017.
Mr Chakwera’s supporters are already celebrating what they believe is an historic victory – in what would be the first time in sub-Saharan Africa that a flawed election result has been overturned, and the opposition has gone on to win power democratically.
The results announced by the MBC come from all but three of 28 districts, reports the Reuters news agency.
So far, the Malawi Electoral Commission has only announced results from 11% of the 5002 voting centres.
Analysts say the commission is meticulously checking the count to make sure there are no grounds to overturn the result again. It says the results should be announced by Saturday.
Opposition figures in several African countries have welcomed Mr Chakwera’s reported victory.
“New life to Malawi!,” said Zimbabwean opposition MDC leader Nelson Chamisa. “The Lord has given Malawi a Godly man,” he added referring to Mr Chakwera’s past in the clergy.
“My friend, brother and leader has just won the Malawian elections. I just got off the phone with him and celebrate his achievement,” tweeted the former leader of South Africa’s DA opposition party Mmusi Maimane.