Egypt's interim president, Adly Mansour has announced that Egypt will hold a presidential election before parliamentary polls, changing a political "road map" laid down after the army overthrew Mohamed Morsi last summer.
The long-expected change could pave the way for the swift election of General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the popular defence minister who many expect will run for the presidency. The "road map" had called for parliamentary elections first, but many of Egypt’s political parties said they would not be ready for a legislative vote this spring.
"Most of the political forces demanded presidential elections first," Mansour said in a televised address, "and I have amended the road map to meet their demands."
The president did not announce a date for the vote, a job that falls to the High Elections Commission. It must be held no less than 90 days after the constitution was adopted, which will require a ballot before mid-April.
Mansour also said he would increase the number of courts dealing with terrorism charges, to “bring perpetrators to justice swiftly.” Security in Egypt has deteriorated since Morsi’s removal, with bombings now a regular occurrence in Cairo and other major cities.
|Egypt's presidential election set in April
His comments came after the government announced that 49 people were killed on Saturday in violence that erupted on the third anniversary of the popular uprising which toppled Hosni Mubarak.
Nearly 250 people were wounded in Cairo and several other provinces during the demonstrations, the Health Ministry said on Sunday.
The worst violence was directed at supporters of the deposed president, Mohamed Morsi, who staged dozens of rallies across the country.
While thousands rallied in support of the army chief, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who overthrew Morsi in July, others protested against the military-backed government, underscoring deep and persistent divisions.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement on Sunday that it had arrested 1,079 "rioters" in possession of rifles, petrol bombs, fireworks, and other weapons. It said that a number of policemen were injured in clashes.
Also on Sunday, four soldiers were killed and nine wounded when gunmen attacked a military bus that was travelling in the Sinai Peninsula, security sources said.
The area is home to Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, an armed group that has said it carried out attacks in Cairo in the days before the anniversary of the start of the uprising against Mubarak's 30-year rule.
Sinai was the site of a reported attack on Saturday where an army helicopter was destroyed by rocket fire.