A former army sergeant who overthrew the elected government in Suriname in 1980 and ran the country as a military strongman for years won the country’s general elections for the second time Monday as a civilian, though he will have to team up with other local parties to be elected president.

Desi Delano Bouterse’s National Democratic Party had contested the last elections in May 2015 as part of the largest grouping in a four-party Mega Combination, but they ditched them all this time to win 27 of the 51 parliamentary seats, one more than required for a simple majority to form a government. However, Bouterse will need 34 votes to be elected head of state by his peers in parliament, meaning that he will likely have to go back to his old Combination partners, such as former insurgent guerilla and Maroon Ronnie Brunswijk, whose Alternative Combination won five seats in the southeastern districts near the border with French Guiana and other smaller political outfits.

To Western countries such as the U.S. and the Netherlands, Suriname’s former mother country, Bouterse is no favorite, largely because of the role and influence he exercised over the Dutch-speaking Caribbean trade bloc nation of approximately 500,000 people in the 1980s. He wrested control from the elected administration of Henck Aaron in February 1980, and together with a combination of fellow military men and civilians, he ran the country until fresh elections in 1987, when the economy tanked and thousands fled the country for Holland and the U.S.

Fed up with the way the civilian government was running the country amid allegations of widespread corruption, he and his close associates simply telephoned the presidential palace and ordered the government to go home in what is still known as the famous Christmas Eve Day 1990 Telephone Coup. Ministers quickly complied.

In between the two coups, Bouterse was in charge of the government when soldiers executed 15 government opponents in 1982, including four journalists, at a military fort next to his current office, blaming them for counter revolutionary activities, among other alleged wrongdoings. No one has ever been indicted for the murders, but Bouterse has accepted collective responsibility for them and apologized for the atrocity.

In Monday’s elections, his nearest rival would be a six-party V-7 combination led by former Police Chief Chandrika Santokhi with 17 seats, but they are unlikely to team up with him to make him president again.

Two other smaller parties won two seats each to complete the parliamentary lineup.

The NDP’s victory created history in at least one category of Surinamese political life, as it is the first time since before or after independence from the Netherlands in 1975 that a single entity had won enough seats to form the government. Bouterse will now likely have to depend on People’s Assembly, which is made up of representatives from outlying districts and the interior, for support to be elected president. That process could take months.

Both Bouterse and Brunswijk, his key partner in the last government, face jail sentences in Holland for alleged drug trafficking—a charge they have contemptuously dismissed as trumped up to get them away from the political scene.