CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan opposition party Popular Will said on Tuesday that Juan Guaido, once the most visible global face of the country's opposition, will be its candidate in an October presidential primary.
Guaido, a 39-year-old industrial engineer, headed an interim government beginning in January 2019, before being replaced as head of the opposition legislature at the end of 2022.
Though Guaido was recognized as Venezuela's rightful leader by many Western countries which consider President Nicolas Maduro's 2018 re-election to be fraudulent, Maduro remains in office and is enjoying loosened U.S. sanctions and renewed relations with some neighbors.
Popular Will opposed the removal of the interim government, saying it would seek unity among the opposition ahead of the presidential contest expected in 2024.
Popular Will's national activist team has decided "that Juan Guaido will be the candidate," party national coordinator Freddy Superlano said at the group's Caracas headquarters.
At least a dozen candidates have said they will participate in the primary, which will come amid widespread voter apathy and uncertainty about whether the millions of Venezuelans who have migrated abroad will be able to vote.
Guaido and some other candidates, including previous opposition presidential hopeful Henrique Capriles, are barred by judicial and administrative rulings from holding public positions.
The government has said those who are barred cannot run until their bans expire, but the opposition says the decisions are part of a government strategy to tamp down dissent.
(Reporting by Vivian Sequera; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Richard Chang)