Venezuela’s opposition party will hold a preliminary election

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CARACAS, Venezuela – The US-backed Venezuelan opposition party on Monday announced plans to hold a preliminary race next year to select a presidential candidate for the 2024 election.

The Unitari Platform said in a statement that it has been transformed into a “broad and inclusive” organization with clear rules and areas of concrete work.

“At the moment, we will start a deep consultation process with the whole country to jointly create this powerful process for single candidate selection,” it says.

The announcement comes after a recent meeting between opposition representatives in Central America and U.S. officials to discuss ways to move forward for a single platform as talks with President Nicolas Maduro’s administration remain stalled.

Negotiations were suspended in October after Maduro ally was extradited to the United States on money laundering charges. Maduro had at the time agreed to return to the negotiating table on the release of businessman Alex Saber, who had returned from the African country of Cape Verde.

The talks, aimed at resolving Venezuela’s long-running political stalemate, were held in Mexico City under the direction of Norwegian diplomats.

The United States and other countries have revoked Maduro’s recognition after accusing him of rigging his re-election as president in 2018. In his place, they recognized Juan Guido, then head of the opposition-led Congress and leader of the single platform.

Over the past five years, the United States has sought to oust Maduro and restore what he sees as a stolen democracy in Venezuela, with everything from oil embargo penalties to criminal charges and covert coups. But in March, U.S. officials met with Maduro in Caracas because Russia’s aggression in Ukraine has shaken the world order and forced Washington to reconsider its national security priorities.

The March meeting also came as Venezuelan opposition struggled with complete apathy, frustration and divisive tactics, even after a landslide victory for anti-Maduro candidates in the November regional elections in the state where Maduro’s adviser and predecessor, the late President Hugo Chavez, was born.

The single platform also announced on Monday that it had named an executive secretary to contribute to the “harmonious development of the debate and the strengthening of unity” of the faction.

“We reiterate that the main goal of the united struggle is to achieve political change, realizing that this is the only right way to end the suffering of millions of Venezuelans.”

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