Egypt's top judicial body urged the prosecutor general appointed by President Mohamed Mursi but reviled by the liberal opposition to resign voluntarily and return to his former job as a judge.
The removal of Talaat Ibrahim has been a key demand of liberals, leftists and civil rights campaigners, who accuse him of bias by targeting independent media, opposition activists and critics of Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood movement, such as popular television satirist Bassem Youssef.
The Supreme Judicial Council statement on Sunday was a further setback for Ibrahim after an appeals court last month annulled his appointment and ordered the justice ministry to reinstate his predecessor, Abdel Maguid Mahmoud.
"It might be appropriate that advisor Talaat Abdullah (Ibrahim) put forward a request expressing his desire to return to his work in the judiciary service," the council said, citing the unity of the judiciary and avoiding causes of discord.
However, it said a further legal procedure was required before the appeals court ruling could be enforced.
Ibrahim has made known his intention to fight against the appeals court ruling. His appointment last year prompted protests by members of the judiciary and many courts suspended their work in protest.
Ibrahim tendered his resignation in December when thousands of prosecutors surrounded his office for several hours, but later withdrew it.