Venezuela's Guaido to stand in opposition primary elections

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido will stand in primary elections to choose a rival to President Nicolas Maduro in the 2024 vote, his party said on Tuesday.

Guaido has been widely viewed as the de-facto political counterpoint to Maduro since he launched an audacious bid to unseat him in January 2019, using his then-position of parliament speaker to declare himself acting president.

Although he was recognized by more than 50 countries, the move floundered and Guaido was increasingly marginalized, even within the opposition.

"It has been decided that Juan Guaido is the Popular Will (party) candidate," the party's political coordinator Freddy Superlano announced during a press conference.

Guaido tweeted later that it was "a great responsibility" to have the backing of the party, adding he would "continue touring the country... in step with the needs and aspirations of our people."

The primaries are due on October 22.

Henrique Capriles, who lost two elections to the ruling United Socialist Party in the past, and Maria Corina Machado, who represents the most radical arm of the opposition coalition, have also formalized their participation in the primaries.

Guaido led a symbolic "interim government" from 2019 until January this year, with support from the United States and recognition from dozens of other countries but no real power within Venezuela.

But the opposition voted to disband the interim government in January and replaced Guaido as head of the parallel congress made up of opposition lawmakers.

Venezuela's official Congress is made up almost exclusively of lawmakers aligned with Maduro and who were elected in 2021 in a vote boycotted by the opposition.

Guaido had been in charge of foreign-held resources that were blocked by his international allies as part of a sanctions package aimed at forcing Maduro out.

While Guaido can take part in the opposition primaries, it is not clear that he would be allowed to actually stand in the 2024 election.

Like Capriles, he has been banned by authorities from holding public office for 15 years.

That is one of the matters under discussion in Mexico-hosted peace talks between the opposition and government, but which have been suspended since November.