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Athens: An unprecedented war of words has broken out between Greece’s outgoing government, the parliament chief and the president over early elections likely to be held on 20 September.

The government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has accused parliamentary speaker Zoe Constantopoulou of “behaving like a dictator" after she branded the early election procedure “undemocratic and unconstitutional."

Tsipras resigned on Thursday, going on the offensive to defend the tough terms he accepted in the €86 billion ($96 billion) rescue package which had triggered a rebellion in his radical-left Syriza party.

The mutiny scuppered his parliamentary majority and last week 25 of the rebels broke away to form a rival anti-bailout group called Popular Unity.

The head of state, President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, is expected to name a caretaker government on 28 August, and announce an election date.

Under the constitution, Pavlopoulos was obliged to invite the largest opposition parties to attempt to form a government before formally setting a date for elections.

The conservative New Democracy party was on Friday given a three-day exploratory mandate, but Tsipras on Sunday turned down a meeting with their leader Vangelis Meimarakis.

“There is no possibility of forming a government under the present parliament," the government said in a note.

The breakaway Syriza rebels will be next in line on Monday.

The procedure has no chance of success, as neither New Democracy nor Popular Unity can muster enough lawmakers for a parliamentary majority in the 300-seat chamber.

But Constantopoulou, Greece’s youngest parliament speaker at 38, has accused the 65-year-old president of breaking the rules by skipping a parliamentary technicality in order to hasten the procedure.

Late on Saturday, the president—an esteemed professor of constitutional law—responded by dismissing her arguments as “legally baseless".

Constantopoulou, whose father was a former head of Syriza’s precursor party Synaspismos—and was a Greek presidential candidate a decade ago—vehemently opposed the third EU bailout Tsipras signed on July 13 and repeatedly sought to frustrate its ratification through stalling tactics.

As a result, three successive parliamentary votes on the bailout were held overnight, and were concluded narrowly before deadlines set by Greece’s creditors expired.

Constantopoulou is now rumoured to be considering joining the anti-bailout Popular Unity group, which takes its name from the leftist alliance that brought Salvador Allende to power in Chile in 1970.

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