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Venezuela Sets Presidential Election Date, With Opposition Candidate Still Banned

WorldVenezuela Sets Presidential Election Date, With Opposition Candidate Still Banned

Venezuelan officials announced on Tuesday that national elections that many had hoped would forge a path toward democracy will be held on July 28.

But the decision on a date comes a month after the country’s highest court barred the leading opposition candidate from the ballot, leading many to question how free and fair the summer election would be.

Still, the announcement from the government of President Nicolás Maduro is at least a partial fulfillment of a commitment to the United States to hold elections this year in exchange for a lifting of crippling economic sanctions.

In October, Mr. Maduro signed an accord with the country’s opposition and agreed to work toward a free and fair presidential vote. In the agreement, Mr. Maduro said he would hold an election before the end of this year, and the United States in turn lifted some sanctions as a sign of good will.

But just days later, Mr. Maduro watched as an opposition candidate, María Corina Machado, won more than 90 percent of the vote in a primary election, organized by the opposition and without the involvement of the government. The decisive results emphasized her popularity and raised the prospect that she could beat him in a general election.

Since then, Mr. Maduro’s government has declared Ms. Machado ineligible to run, over what it claimed were financial irregularities that occurred when she was a national legislator, and arrested several members of her campaign. Men on motorbikes have attacked supporters at her events.

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