Bolivia's Evo Morales likely forced to presidential runoff

Bolivia's Evo Morales likely forced to presidential runoff
Bolivian President Evo Morales speaks to supporters at the presidential palace in La Paz, Bolivia, after a first round presidential election, Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019. According to official early returns, Morales is in the lead but appears headed to a December runoff against former President Carlos Mesa. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — Bolivian President Evo Morales has come out ahead in the first round of the presidential election, but he appears to have failed to get enough votes to avoid the first runoff in his nearly 14 years in power.

The preliminary results released late Sunday have dealt a harsh blow to South America’s longest serving leader in what has become the tightest political race of his life. But Morales, who is seeking a fourth term, still declared victory and told supporters at the presidential palace that “the people again imposed their will.”

The official returns put Morales in first with 45.3%, trailed in second by former President Carlos Mesa with 38.2%.

If the results hold, the two will face off in December and Morales could be vulnerable to a united opposition.