Venezuela opposition's Gonzalez says gov't would have blocked candidacy by now if that was its plan

By Vivian Sequera and Mayela Armas

CARACAS (Reuters) -Venezuelan opposition candidate Edmundo Gonzalez said on Friday that President Nicolas Maduro's government would have already banned him from public office if it had been planning on blocking his presidential candidacy.

Gonzalez, 74, a former diplomat to Algeria and Argentina, was named by the Unitary Platform opposition coalition last month as its candidate for the July 28 presidential election, after landslide primary winner Maria Corina Machado had a ban on holding office upheld by the Supreme Court.

Members of the opposition and analysts have warned the ruling party could take action to ban Gonzalez or block opposition parties from appearing on the ballot.

"They would have done it already," Gonzalez told Reuters when asked if he thought he could face a ban. "Once they accepted me, once they accepted another party endorsing my candidacy, I don't think there will be any issue," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez will appear on the ballot for three opposition parties, while Maduro is set to represent 13 parties.

"One could anticipate any kind of actions, attempts to boycott or impede the candidacy, but this is now really far advanced," he added, referring to the campaign for the July vote.

Gonzalez said he has already held meetings with delegates from the Carter Center and the European Union, who are set to act as election observers.

The former diplomat would not be drawn about sanctions on Maduro's government by Washington, which last month reimposed broad measures on the oil industry, saying Maduro had failed to comply with an electoral deal with the opposition.

Asked about foreign debt obligations facing Venezuela, Gonzalez said the country "always has honored its international commitments."

If elected, Gonzalez said rebuilding a normal diplomatic relationship with the United States would be a priority.

"We have cut all the ties of cooperation which existed and those must be reestablished" Gonzalez said, adding Venezuela needs more attention from the international community.

Gonzalez said he was preparing for campaigning in the center of the country. Various opposition leaders, including Machado, have been touring Venezuela to encourage voters to go to the polls for the opposition.

A poll from More Consulting last month, before Gonzalez was named as the candidate, showed 46% of those surveyed planned to back the candidate supported by Machado, while some 21% planned to vote for Maduro.

(Reporting by Vivian Sequera and Mayela ArmasWriting by Julia Symmes Cobb, editing by Deepa Babington)