Venezuelan Opposition Leader Says He’d Be Open to Talks With Maduro

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuelan opposition candidate Edmundo González said that if he wins this year’s election he’d be open to talks with President Nicolás Maduro to ensure a smooth transfer of power.

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González said he “does not rule out” using the period between his election and the start of his government to reach out to Maduro so that there’s a “normal transition.”

Maduro is seeking a third consecutive term in the July 28 vote, amid a wave of repression against opposition figures. At least five opposition members were barred last week from running for public office for as long as 15 years.

González said he wants to stabilize Venezuela’s currency, foster foreign investment and to free political prisoners, in a video posted to his social media and a Tuesday radio interview. The little-known former ambassador to Argentina was thrust into the spotlight last week when Venezuela’s 10-party opposition coalition backed him as their candidate.

Recent comments from Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva celebrating the opposition’s uniting behind a single candidate are a sign of the international community’s concern with the election’s legitimacy, he said.

Read More: Lula Welcomes United Opposition in Venezuela Race Against Maduro

María Corina Machado, who won the opposition primaries in October but was banned from running, endorsed González.

--With assistance from Fabiola Zerpa.

(Updates with context on new banned opposition leaders in third paragraph.)

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