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The Venezuelan opposition announced late on Friday that it will coalesce around a single, little-known figure to challenge Nicolas Maduro at the polls in July.

The coalition, known as Unity Platform, said that Edmundo Gonzalez will be its candidate in the upcoming elections.

Following a series of negotiations, Manuel Rosales, a former governor who some in the opposition distrusted for his willingness to negotiate with the Maduro government, will withdraw his candidacy.

This means that Gonzalez, a former ambassador who had not been a central figure in Venezuelan politics, will be anointed. He held the top diplomatic post in Argentina (1998-2022) and Argelia (1991-1993). He was working in the academic sector before being tapped for the post.

He was among the few allowed to sign up as a candidate for the elections, after main opposition leader, Marina Corina Machado was prevented from doing so and her initial substitute candidate, Corina Yoris, was banned as well.

The opposition coalition is seemingly determined to compete at the polls despite the government's maneuvers, which have led the U.S. government to reinstate its sanctions on the oil industry as it determined there was no substantial progress toward freer and fairer elections.

Polls are an encouragement to do so. A study from mid-April shows that 81% of respondents do not want Maduro to remain in power while 10% want him to do so, and 9% said they do not know.

Four in ten Venezuelans would consider leaving the country if Maduro were to be reelected, with only 16% expressing their desire to remain in the country in that scenario.

The survey, based on interviews with 1,000 people across the country, also showed that a vast majority (74%) consider María Corina Machado to be the most reliable and credible political leader in the country, while 72% said they would vote for her if she were allowed to compete. Machado and the rest of the opposition threw their support behind Edmundo Gonzalez, giving him a solid chance at the polls.

"Venezuelans, we're moving forward!" said Machado on X, formerly Twitter, after the announcement. Her party, Vente Venezuela, added: "We celebrate this decision and thank Venezuelans for the trust."

Corina Yoris, on her end, said in the same platform: "We have a candidate, who has the unanimous support of the coalition and Maria Corina Machado, as well as mine, of course. Unity above everything."

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