The constitution stipulates that such elections can be held only if Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian resigns and the Armenian parliament twice fails to elect another head of the government.
Pashinian resigned for that purpose on Sunday. He made clear that he will continue to perform his duties at least until election day.
Some opposition figures and lawyers critical of the government maintain that the constitution does not allow Pashinian to remain in office after his resignation. Ter-Petrosian effectively echoed their view in a statement released on Monday.
Ter-Petrosian cited a relevant article published by Edgar Ghazarian, the former chief of the Constitutional Court staff. He said Ghazarian’s arguments must be taken seriously by President Armen Sarkissian, the Constitutional Court judges and Armenian political forces. Or else, he said, they would be complicit in the conduct of “unconstitutional elections.”
The ex-president also hit out at the two parliamentary opposition parties that have pledged to help Pashinian ensure that the National Assembly does not elect another prime minister after his resignation. He claimed that the Prosperous Armenia (BHK) and Bright Armenia parties struck an unconstitutional deal with Pashinian.
Pashinian’s My Step bloc insisted on Tuesday that the constitution does not require the prime minister to leave office now.
“Some circles are now trying to cast a shadow over the elections,” Vahagn Hovakimian, a senior My Step lawmaker, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. “The first president [of Armenia] is joining in that effort, which is a tragedy.”
The BHK’s Mikael Melkumian acknowledged that legal experts are divided over what Pashinian’s current status must be. Melkumian said only the Constitutional Court can decide which of them are right.
“If we asked the Constitutional Court to discuss this issue that would drag out the [pre-election political] process,” he said. “We all aim to make sure that the elections take place on June 20.”
Ter-Petrosian did not say whether his Armenian National Congress (HAK) party, which is not represented in the current parliament, will boycott the anticipated elections. An HAK spokesman said the party is scheduled to hold a congress on May 7.
Ter-Petrosian and his associates have been increasingly critical of Pashinian since a Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement stopped the war in Nagorno-Karabakh in November. Like other opposition figures, they blame him for Armenia’s defeat in the six-week war.
The ex-president, who had ruled Armenia from 1991-1998, said last month that Pashinian must step down and “at least temporarily” leave the country to end the post-war political crisis. The prime minister reacted scathingly to that statement.