Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika has been narrowly elected to a second term in office with 38.5% of the vote.

The incumbent leader, 78, had faced stiff competition in the 21 May election, including from his deputy.

The result was announced on Monday after an injunction ordered by the country’s high court was lifted.

Challenger Lazarus Chakwera, who finished in second place, had sought to delay the announcement because of concerns over voting irregularities.

The head of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), Jane Ansah, appealed for calm ahead of the announcement.

What were the results?

The MEC say President Mutharika, who heads the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), gained a narrow victory by about 159,000 votes.

Mr Chakwera, from the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), came close behind with about 35.4% of the vote. He had also placed as runner-up five years ago.

President Mutharika’s deputy, Saulos Chilima, finished in third place – winning just over 20% of the ballot.

Three main candidates
Image captionLazarus Chakwera (left) and Saulos Chilima (centre) were challenging the president (right)

With high levels of national poverty, the economy and corruption were key election issues.

The vote was seen as one of the most unpredictable the country had seen.

Who is President Mutharika?

President Mutharika, who has a background as a lawyer and professor, has been the country’s leader since 2014.

He was educated in the UK and the US – and has been involved in Malawian politics since 2008 when his brother, then president, appointed him as chief legal adviser.

He was arrested in 2013 alongside other cabinet ministers accused of plotting to overthrow his brother’s successor.

People in a voting queueImage copyrightAFP
Image captionAlmost seven million were registered to vote – more of half of which were aged between 18 and 34

In the run-up to last week’s vote, President Mutharika’s age and health had been a focus. Shortly before the election he had to deny a rumour that he had died.

His opposition argued that high-level corruption has got worse under his presidency.

President Mutharika himself was sucked into an alleged bribery scandal, but denied any wrongdoing and was cleared by the country’s anti-corruption watchdog.