CAIRO — Egypt’s interim president said Sunday that the country will hold presidential elections before parliamentary polls, promising that a rise in ‘‘dark terrorism’’ won’t derail a transition to democracy after a July 3 popularly backed military coup.
The announcement by Adly Mansour, expected after weeks of speculation, comes as many think army chief General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi will run for president after leading the coup that toppled Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.
But Egypt remains dangerously divided, as seen in clashes Saturday that pitted security forces and civilians who back the interim government against Morsi supporters, killing 49 people. There has also been a rise in militant attacks, including one on Sunday that killed three soldiers in the country’s Sinai Peninsula.
In a brief nationally televised speech, Mansour said he will ask Egypt’s election commission to open the door for presidential candidates to register.
Egypt’s newly adopted constitution calls for the first election to be held within 90 days of its passage, or before the end of April, with the parliamentary polls held before the end of July.
There have been growing calls for Sissi to run, with many among Egypt’s turmoil-exhausted public saying only a strongman can deal with the country’s myriad problems, such as restoring stability and legitimizing the interim government installed after Morsi’s ouster.
‘‘The country needs a strong president, more than it needs a Parliament or elected lawmakers,’’ said Omar Gamaleddin, a Cairo resident. ‘‘This is a good decision.’’
The head of Al-Nour, the ultraconservative Islamist Salafi party, said putting the presidential election first is the consensus among political groups in Egypt.
Younes Makhyoun said his party had campaigned for keeping parliamentary elections first but it has accepted the majority decision.
‘‘We would have preferred a Parliament first so that the coming president doesn’t combine legislative and executive powers at the same time,’’ Makhyoun said. ‘‘We must now think of the future. . . . The declared goal is that the people now need a president more than a Parliament to have the leadership necessary to achieve stability.’’
Makhyoun said his party has not decided whether it will back a potential Sissi bid for the presidency. He added that the next president is expected to deal with a number of challenges, including demands for social justice and more freedoms, as well as dealing with violent groups seeking to destabilize Egypt.
‘‘We don’t need a president to do everything alone. We want to establish the principle of a country of institutions, and not a president that works on his own,’’ Makhyoun said.
The general has not yet made a formal announcement. He would have to quit his post as defense minister before launching a campaign for the presidency. Under the new constitution, a president can serve a maximum of two four-year terms.
Ecstatic crowds gathered across the country Saturday in government-sponsored rallies marking the third anniversary of the start of Egypt’s 2011 revolution, with many openly calling for Sissi to run.