CAIRO: Egypt's government is likely to call a presidential election before parliamentary polls, officials said on Monday, rearranging the political timetable in a way that could see army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi elected head of state by April.
Parliamentary elections were supposed to happen first under the roadmap unveiled after the army deposed Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in July after mass protests against his rule.
But critics have campaigned for a change, saying the country needs an elected leader to direct government at a time of economic and political crisis and to forge a political alliance before a potentially divisive parliamentary election.
Opponents say it risks creating a president with unchecked power. Were that Sisi, who is widely tipped to win the vote, it would restore the army's sway over a post controlled by military men until Mursi was propelled to office last year by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Sisi's Islamist opponents view him as the mastermind of a military coup and a crackdown that has killed hundred of Mursi's supporters and jailed thousands more. The Brotherhood, which says it is committed to peaceful protest, was officially designated a terrorist group last week.
In further unrest, one person was killed and five others were wounded on Monday in the Mediterranean town of Damietta in clashes between opponents and supporters of Mursi. Such incidents have taken place almost daily since Mursi was removed.
In Cairo, a court sentenced 139 Brotherhood members to two years in jail and a fine of 5,000 Egyptian pounds ($720) each for engaging in violent actions, protesting and rioting.