A Venezuelan opposition coalition has been granted permission to contest regional elections in November after a three-year ban, the crisis-stricken country's electoral council has confirmed.
The Democratic Unity Roundtable, known by its Spanish acronym MUD, has been cleared for "participation in the next elections" for governors and mayors on November 21, said National Electoral Council (CNE) chief Pedro Calzadilla.
In 2015, the MUD won 112 of 167 seats on the National Assembly, giving President Nicolás Maduro's regime its biggest-ever defeat.
But in 2018, ahead of presidential elections in which Maduro claimed victory, the MUD was disqualified from participating by the regime-aligned Supreme Tribunal of Justice, which argued it was not a political party but an alliance.
The MUD rejected the 2018 election as a "fraudulent show." The international community followed suit and declared Maduro's victory illegitimate – with dozens of countries recognising opposition figure Juan Guaidó as the country's president instead.
Tuesday's announcement came a day after Maduro vowed to respect any opposition victories in the November vote.
This, in turn, came days after the United States, European Union and Canada said in a statement they were willing to "review" sanctions in exchange for a "credible" vote.
"I announce that starting from these elections, I think the best... is that the one who wins governs," Maduro said Monday.
He announced the scrapping of a so-called "protectorate" system he had created in regions where the opposition had won gubernatorial and mayoral races in the past, to effectively usurp their power in favour of his United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).
"We will stop with the protectors for states and municipalities so that the one who wins governs, full stop," the head of state said at an official ceremony.
In a statement last Friday, EU chief diplomat Josep Borrell, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Canada's Foreign Minister Marc Garneau, said they were "deeply concerned about the ongoing crisis in Venezuela and called for negotiations as well as "credible, inclusive and transparent local, parliamentary and presidential elections."
The trio said they were "willing to review sanctions policies based on meaningful progress in a comprehensive negotiation."