CAIRO - Egypt's parliamentary elections, previously scheduled to begin on April 27, have been brought forward to start on April 22, the presidential spokesman said on his Facebook page on Saturday.

Members of Egypt's Coptic Christian minority had criticized the planned timing of the elections because some voting would take place during their Easter holiday.

An opposition leader called for Egyptians to boycott elections, saying the process under Islamist President Mohamed Morsi would be "an act of deception".

Islamists, who have won every election since the 2011 overthrow of autocrat Hosni Mubarak, dismissed any suggestion that the parliamentary polls would lack credibility and predicted a strong turnout.

Morsi called the lower house elections on Thursday, aiming to conclude Egypt's turbulent transition to democracy.

However, liberal politician Mohamed ElBaradei drew comparisons with the last parliamentary polls to be held under Mubarak in 2010, a vote which was widely seen as rigged.

ElBaradei, a former UN nuclear agency chief, noted he had called for a boycott in 2010 "to expose sham democracy".

"Today I repeat my call, (I) will not be part of an act of deception," he said on his Twitter account.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which backs Morsi, rejected any call to boycott the voting which has been scheduled in four stages from April 22 to June. Essam Erian, a senior member of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, said the polls would be carried out under "complete judicial supervision" as well as being followed by Egyptian, regional and international media.

Voting would be monitored by Egyptian and foreign civil society and human rights organisations, he said on his Facebook page, adding that he expected wide participation.

Egyptian elections have been supervised by judges since the revolution. The relatively small numbers of judges have required the drawn-out process, allowing them to oversee voting in different regions on different days.

The opposition says Morsi should not have called the elections until a number of disputes had been settled, chiefly a new constitution produced by an Islamist-dominated assembly which contributed to serious street violence last year.

Islamists have used well-organized campaign operations to win every election since the revolution, while the liberal and leftist opposition has been beset by divisions. Previous opposition boycott threats have failed to materialize.

The National Salvation Front (NSF), which groups a number of parties opposed to the Islamists including ElBaradei's, is due to decide in the coming week whether to join a boycott.

"This is Dr. ElBaradei's own position and own opinion," said NSF spokesman Khaled Dawood, but he added that other NSF leaders were sympathetic to the idea of a boycott.

"This is yet another individual move by the Muslim Brotherhood and President Morsi, establishing facts on the ground and then asking you to basically go with the rules of the game they've set on their own," he said.

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