Venezuelan opposition forced to register unknown candidate for July vote

Venezuela's main opposition coalition said Tuesday it had managed to register a proxy candidate to face off against President Nicolas Maduro in the country's July elections – but not the one it wanted.

With popular leader Maria Corina Machado banned from public office, the plan had been to register another stand-in candidate, 80-year-old university professor Corina Yoris. But the coalition found itself blocked from doing so by the time the deadline struck at midnight on Monday.

The National Electoral Council (CNE) on Tuesday released the surprise name of Edmundo Gonzalez Urrutia, a political scientist and former ambassador, as the candidate of the Democratic Unitary Platform (PUD). The coalition said in a statement that his candidacy was "provisional ... given the clear impossibility of registering the chosen candidate so far."

The United States and Brazil were among several nations that expressed alarm after the coalition was unable to register Yoris.

Regime 'chose' candidates

Maduro, 61, is seeking to extend his turbulent decade in power with a third six-year term, amid rising concerns over his slide into authoritarianism and crackdown on dissent.

"What we warned about for many months ended up happening: the regime chose its (opposition) candidates," Machado told a press conference.

Another opposition figure, the veteran politician Manuel Rosales, also managed to register. He is seen as a more palatable opponent by Maduro's socialist government.


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