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President Mohammed Morsi pushes unity, defends economy in Egypt

In first speech to senate, Morsi blames protesters for hurting vital tourism industry.

Egypt morsi speech 12292012Enlarge
Egyptian riot police stand guard outside the upper house of parliament as President Mohamed Morsi gave a speech in Cairo on December 29, 2012. Morsi said in the address that a disputed new constitution guaranteed equality for all Egyptians and downplayed the country's economic woes. (MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images)

As Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi defended his nation’s economy today, the country’s central bank issued a warning against critically low foreign currency levels.

In his first speech to the senate – the government’s newly empowered upper house – since winning power in June, Morsi said his country can report gains as well as losses, AFP reported.

“General indicators for the social and economic situation have shown some noticeable progress,” he said, according to AFP.

Morsi also blamed protesters for hurting the vital tourism industry.

Often violent demonstrations sprang up this month against Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood and sweeping new powers he enacted for himself. Eight people died outside the presidential palace on December 5.

“Unfortunately, if it were not for events in which some people violated the peacefulness of politics, this noticeable rise (in tourism) would have continued,” he said, AFP reported.

The president also called upon opposition powers to unite for a greater good, Bloomberg said.

Economists and analysts are not impressed by Egypt’s course.

More from GlobalPost: Egyptian voters back new constitution

The Egyptian pound is at an eight-year low and the country’s credit rating took another step lower on December 24, Bloomberg said.

Morsi has “lost a lot of his legitimacy,” UK political analyst Khalil al-Anani told Bloomberg.

There hasn’t been “any real concessions to pacify the opposition or push the process of democratization forward.”

As Morsi made his speech, the Central Bank of Egypt said its reserves of foreign currency are at a minimum, The Associated Press reported.

The bank resorted to an auction system as Egyptians rushed to exchange pounds for US dollars in fear of further devaluation, the AP said.

Egypt had $15 billion in foreign reserves in November, half of what it held last year, and its reserves are at a minimum level to meet international obligations, according to the AP.

More from GlobalPost: Mubarak transferred to military hospital as health worsens

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/egypt/121229/president-mohammed-morsi-pushes-unity-defends-economy