Egyptian president says he'll protect the poor, middle-class

Protesters chant slogans against the regime in Cairo, Egypt, early Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. Dozens of people held a rare protest in Cairo during which they called on Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to quit. Security forces dispersed the protesters and no casualties were reported. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

CAIRO — Egypt's president says he'll protect the poor and middle-class Egyptians hard hit by his government's austerity measures.

The remarks are the first on economy by Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, following rare anti-government protests earlier this month believed to have been partly driven by economic hardship. The protests triggered a sweeping security clampdown.

El-Sissi tweeted late Sunday that measures are underway to "protect the rights of the people" adversely impacted by slashing subsidies. He didn't elaborate.

El-Sissi's ambitious reform program, launched in 2016, aims at overhauling the country's ailing economy. The government has also floated the currency and substantially cut subsidies.

The austerity measures have taken a heavy toll on poor and middle-class Egyptians. The official statistics agency reported in July that one in three Egyptians is living in poverty.

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