Egypt's military council has endorsed a presidential bid by the army chief who led the ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi last year.
The official MENA news agency said Monday that an announcement by Abdel Fattah el-Sissi of his candidacy could take place "within hours."
"The decision was expected and it is the first step before the resignation of the general and his candidacy announcement,'' a security official told Reuters.
In order for Sissi to contest the election he has to resign from his post as defense minister and from the military.
Just before Egypt's top generals approved Sissi's candidacy, interim president Adly Mansour promoted him to the military's highest rank of field marshal.
The army chief has become popular among many Egyptians since he deposed Morsi in July, triggering political upheaval and street violence in the Arab world's most populous nation.
But a significant sector of the public sees him as a decisive figure who can stabilize the country, which has lurched from one crisis to another since a popular uprising toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
Supporters look to General Sissi as a guarantor of stability, but security lapses in recent days have raised alarms. Four bombs exploded Friday in Cairo, another three in Cairo and Suez on Saturday, and soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula were caught in a deadly ambush Sunday.
Authorities said at least 49 people died in clashes over the weekend.
Some information for this report provided by Reuters.