Daniel Ortega has won Nicaragua's presidential election with about 38 percent of the votes, according to the country's top electoral official.
With 91 percent of the vote counted, Ortega gained 38 percent of the vote compared to 29 percent for Harvard-educated Eduardo Montealegre. Jose Rizo finished third with 26.2 percent.
Under Nicaraguan law, the winner must get 35 percent and have a five-percentage point lead to win the election outright and avoid a runoff.
"The results favor Daniel Ortega, whom I've called to congratulate," Montealegre, of the National Liberal Alliance, said in a speech conceding defeat.
Ortega, 60, a Cold War era foe of the United States, led the country from 1979, after toppling the military dictator Anastasio Somoza. He won the presidency again in 1984 but lost the next election, and left power in 1990.
Applauding Ortega's victory, Guatemalan President Oscar Berger said in Guatemala City that "We respect the will of the Nicaraguan people and congratulate Daniel Ortega."
Cuban President Fidel Castro, in a statement attributed to him read over Cuban television, also congratulated Ortega for his "grandiose victory."
The Organization of American States said that Monday's elections and the process that led up to the elections were peaceful, orderly, popular, and legal. Other international observers also lauded the process.
Costa Rica's President Oscar Arias said that the election was transparent. "Democracy has been consolidating across the region and Nicaragua is no exception," Arias said in a statement.