(Bloomberg) -- A key Venezuelan opposition party unexpectedly registered its own candidate for the July presidential election, splitting the group of political opponents to President Nicolas Maduro and getting him closer to reelection.

The party known as A New Era entered Zulia state Governor Manuel Rosales in the race, Stalin Gonzalez, the party’s former lawmaker, said in a social media post in the early hours of Tuesday. The registration was made in the very last minute when it became clear that the opposition coalition wouldn’t be able to enroll its candidate. 

“The opposition forces were on their way to being left out of the electoral race,” A New Era said in a statement a few hours later. “Something we have been clear about is that abstention is not an option.”

Earlier on Monday, leading opposition figure Corina Yoris suggested that the government was seeking to thwart opposition parties from registering candidates, saying they had faced repeated technical difficulties in Venezuela’s automated enrollment system. 

The opposition coalition known as Unitary Platform last week chose Yoris, a professor, to replace banned candidate Maria Corina Machado on the ballot. But after the five-day registration window closed at the end of Monday, it said on social media that it could not register her because it was never allowed to access the system.  

The group didn’t agree with Rosales’ candidacy, Yoris said in a radio interview. “What happened last night was a betrayal, an agreement between the person running and the government.”

Neighborhood Force, a party of opposition dissidents controlling several municipalities throughout the country, is supporting Rosales’ candidacy, Information Minister Freddy Nanez posted on social media. 

The last-minute maneuver keeps a divided opposition involved in the race, following Maduro’s apparent attempts to prevent the participation of stronger representatives.

Read More: Venezuela Rebuked as Opposition Fights to Register Candidate 

In late January, his government ratified the decision to bar Machado, who overwhelmingly won an opposition primary last year, from running for public office. It has recently intensified its persecution of her allies and aides, issuing warrants for their arrest.

Rosales’ candidacy still needs to be approved by the electoral authority. Even if it is accepted, the government could still take further actions against Rosales, who was once banned from running for office.

Rosales, 71, was the opposition’s candidate in the 2006 presidential election, which he lost to then-President Hugo Chavez, 63%-37%. He is currently in his second stint as the Zulia state’s governor, and serves as president of A New Era, a moderate opposition party.

Much about the presidential vote remains uncertain. The government said it had invited eight international observation groups to oversee the vote, including the Carter Center, the European Union, and the United Nations, but none has confirmed attendance yet.

(Updates with A New Era’s statement and comments from Corina Yoris starting in third paragraph.)

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