(CNN) -- Egypt's ruling military council has moved up the scheduled elections for the upper house of parliament by nearly three weeks, with voting now scheduled to start in late January, the state news agency MENA reported Sunday.
Balloting will be held in two stages instead of three, first on January 29-30 and then on February 14-15, MENA said, citing a decree from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. If necessary, runoffs would be held on February 7 and 22, with a goal of having winners seated by February 28.
Elections for the upper house had been scheduled to wrap up by March 12. A third round of elections for the lower house kicks off on Tuesday, with a runoff to be held later.
The generals have ruled Egypt since the revolt that toppled longtime strongman Hosni Mubarak last February. Sunday's announcement follows weeks of street protests calling on them to cede power to a civilian government, and a crackdown on opposition that saw police raiding several rights groups, including three based in the United States.
Egyptian authorities agreed to halt the raids and return all equipment and documents seized after protests from Washington, which provides more than $1 billion per year in military aid to Egypt.