Venezuela's main opposition on Monday announced primaries in 2023 to elect a single candidate to stand against incumbent Nicolas Maduro in the country's next presidential election.

The opposition last held primaries in 2012 when candidate Henrique Capriles romped to victory before he was beaten by the late Hugo Chavez in the presidential election.

Following Chavez's death, Capriles stood again as opposition candidate the next year against Maduro. However, the opposition boycotted the last elections in 2018.

"The presidential candidate of the democratic forces will be elected by a broad and plural primary process that will take place in 2023," the main opposition parties said in a statement.

The presidential election is scheduled for 2024, six years after Maduro won a second successive term in the largely boycotted 2018 vote.

Dozens of countries, led by the European Union and United States, joined the opposition in rejecting the result of the election and accusing Maduro of fraud.

The popularity of Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido, pictured in March 2022, has fallen since he made international headlines in January 2019
The popularity of Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido, pictured in March 2022, has fallen since he made international headlines in January 2019 AFP / Federico PARRA

That rejection led to opposition leader Juan Guaido in January 2019 using his position as assembly speaker to declare himself acting president, quickly garnering the support of almost 60 countries.

However, Maduro has crucially kept control of Venezuela's institutions, including the influential military.

A source has said Guaido has not ruled out running in the primaries.

"As Venezuelans, we need a presidential election," Guaido tweeted, saying such a vote could mean "the end of the dictatorship and the return of democracy."

"We are taking steps to demand a date and conditions for a free and fair election," he said.

No date has yet been set for the 2024 elections by the top electoral body, which is controlled by Maduro loyalists.

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