CARACAS (Reuters) – Representatives of Venezuela’s main opposition parties said on Tuesday they will participate in regional and local elections scheduled for November, a reversal of strategy after boycotting previous elections they argued were not free or fair.

Opposition parties label President Nicolas Maduro a dictator who rigged his 2018 re-election and the decision was made as a more-than two-year push to oust him through international pressure and calls for the military to switch allegiances has failed.

That frustration has led many opposition politicians to clamor for Juan Guaido – an opposition legislator elected in 2015 and later recognized by the United States as interim president – to change tack, as U.S. sanctions add to the OPEC member’s economic woes.

“For those who think that the solution is not electoral … then what is it?” Henry Ramos Allup, a leader of the Democratic Action opposition party, asked at a news conference in Caracas.

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Earlier on Tuesday, Freddy Guevara – a leader in Guaido’s normally hardline Popular Will party – called for “coexistence” with Maduro rather than trying to force a change in government.

Venezuela’s information ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Maduro has previously argued that the opposition’s decisions to boycott presidential and parliamentary elections in 2018 and 2020, respectively, showed its lack of democratic values and concern it would lose.

In a statement, the Venezuelan United Platform, a grouping of opposition parties, said it recognized the elections would not be “fair nor conventional,” but said the vote would nonetheless be a “useful battleground” to push for presidential and parliamentary elections.

Meanwhile, representatives of Maduro’s government and the opposition are preparing for a round of internationally-mediated negotiations aimed at resolving the South American country’s political crisis.

(Reporting by Brian Ellsworth in Caracas; Writing by Luc Cohen; editing by Grant McCool)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.

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