RELIGION

Egypt president says his economic reforms are no 'picnic'

  • FILE -- In this Nov. 19, 2016 file photo, an Egyptian carries a basket of bread, in Cairo, Egypt. On Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016, Egypt's president defended the tough economic measures his government has undertaken, at a gathering of clerics ahead of the Prophet's Birthday, a major Islamic holiday, saying there was no alternative in the face of deteriorating economy. The remarks were the first by el-Sissi since the government's unprecedented floatation of the Egyptian pound, meant to ensure that Egypt qualifies for a 12 billion dollar loan from the IMF.  (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)

    FILE -- In this Nov. 19, 2016 file photo, an Egyptian carries a basket of bread, in Cairo, Egypt. On Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016, Egypt's president defended the tough economic measures his government has undertaken, at a gathering of clerics ahead of the Prophet's Birthday, a major Islamic holiday, saying there was no alternative in the face of deteriorating economy. The remarks were the first by el-Sissi since the government's unprecedented floatation of the Egyptian pound, meant to ensure that Egypt qualifies for a 12 billion dollar loan from the IMF. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE -- In this March 15, 2015 file photo, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi speaks during the final day of a major economic conference, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. On Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016, Egypt's president defended the tough economic measures his government has undertaken, at a gathering of clerics ahead of the Prophet's Birthday, a major Islamic holiday, saying there was no alternative in the face of deteriorating economy. The remarks were the first by el-Sissi since the government's unprecedented floatation of the Egyptian pound, meant to ensure that Egypt qualifies for a 12 billion dollar loan from the IMF. (AP Photo/Thomas Hartwell, File)

    FILE -- In this March 15, 2015 file photo, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi speaks during the final day of a major economic conference, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. On Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016, Egypt's president defended the tough economic measures his government has undertaken, at a gathering of clerics ahead of the Prophet's Birthday, a major Islamic holiday, saying there was no alternative in the face of deteriorating economy. The remarks were the first by el-Sissi since the government's unprecedented floatation of the Egyptian pound, meant to ensure that Egypt qualifies for a 12 billion dollar loan from the IMF. (AP Photo/Thomas Hartwell, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE -- In this Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016 file photo, Egyptian policemen are reflected in a car mirror as they sit near graffiti displayed on a wall in Cairo, Egypt. On Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016, Egypt's president defended the tough economic measures his government has undertaken, at a gathering of clerics ahead of the Prophet's Birthday, a major Islamic holiday, saying there was no alternative in the face of deteriorating economy. In his speech, the army-chief-turned-president also reiterated earlier warnings against any attempts to "topple the state." (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty, File)

    FILE -- In this Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016 file photo, Egyptian policemen are reflected in a car mirror as they sit near graffiti displayed on a wall in Cairo, Egypt. On Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016, Egypt's president defended the tough economic measures his government has undertaken, at a gathering of clerics ahead of the Prophet's Birthday, a major Islamic holiday, saying there was no alternative in the face of deteriorating economy. In his speech, the army-chief-turned-president also reiterated earlier warnings against any attempts to "topple the state." (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty, File)  (The Associated Press)

The Egyptian president is defending the tough economic measures his government has undertaken, saying there was no other alternative in the face of deteriorating economy.

Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi says that "structural reforms" are an imperative for Egypt and that the measures that have been implemented are no "picnic."

El-Sissi spoke on Thursday to a gathering of clerics ahead of a major Islamic holiday.

El-Sissi's remarks were his first since the government's unprecedented floatation of the Egyptian pound last month, meant to ensure that Egypt qualifies for a 12 billion dollar loan from the IMF.

Elected in 2014, el-Sissi depended on billions of dollars of assistance from Gulf Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia but relations with the Sunni kingdom have become strained recently over regional crises, including the conflict in Syria.