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Egypt's Mursi says falls short of goals, seeks to assuage critics

By Shaimaa Fayed

CAIRO, Oct 6 (Reuters) - Egyptian President Mohamed Mursisaid on Saturday he had fallen short of goals he promised tofulfill in his first 100 days in office, but aimed to assuagecritics by highlighting his most prominent achievements.

Mursi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood, was handedpower in June by the army council that ruled Egypt for 16 monthsfollowing Hosni Mubarak's ouster in a popular uprising in 2011and after a presidential election.

He spoke on Saturday before tens of thousands of Egyptiansgathered at the Cairo stadium to mark the anniversary of Egypt'ssuccessful crossing of the Suez Canal in its October 1973 waragainst Israel.

"When election results were announced and I took upresponsibility on June 30, I announced a clear programme," Mursitold the crowds, referring to a 100-day plan that broadlyfocused on issues of security, supply of energy and bread,street cleanliness, and traffic decongestion.

"What has been achieved is not enough of course, but whathas been achieved by professional standards is about 70 percentof what we targetted during those 100 days."

Mursi said that among his government's main shortcomings wasthe ability to supply butane gas cylinders to Egyptians.Millions of home do not have natural gas piped into their homes.

The state currently sells butane cylinders at about 5Egyptian pounds ($0.82) each as part of its energy subsidyprogramme. The actual cost of the cylinders is about 65 pounds.

"There is a 15 percent supply shortage that pains us all butthere are reasons for this. We are not trying to escaperesponsibility," Mursi said, citing deep-rooted corruption inthe country as one of the reasons for insufficient supplies.

Amongst his top achievements, however, Mursi stressed theinterior ministry's work to step up security in the country,which had deteriorated after last year's uprising.

Seeking to ward off criticisms that he had placed foreignpolicy ahead of domestic affairs, Mursi said his travels toAddis Abbaba, Beijing, and New York among other destinationssince his election were targetted at boosting the economy.

"We conducted 9 trips in 11 days. They brought the economyaround $10 billion in the form of direct support as well asinvestment projects during a brief period," Mursi said.

Egypt is seeking to secure a $4.8 billion loan from theInternational Monetary Fund to plug an unmanageable budgetdeficit. Reducing state expenditure by targeting subsidies moretoward the needy is seen as vital for receiving the loan.

Mursi told the crowds that he was not veering away from hisIslamist principles by accepting the loan since Islamic lawnormally forbids paying of interest.

"Some are asking whether the loan is considered usury ornot. I do not accept at all that Egyptians get fed off usury,"Mursi said. "1.1 percent (interest rate), is this usury?"

Though the crowds cheered him, some criticised what theysaid was a populist speech aimed at concealing shortcomings.

"The government over-promised," said Sherif ElGhatrifi, headof an insurance firm. "There is little substance in what Mursisaid, no clear messages he wants to give except excuses for notdelivering. I do not feel any change on the streets."($1 = 6.0930 Egyptian pounds)

(Additional reporting by Omar Fahmy and Ahmed Tolba; Editing byMyra MacDonald)

((shaimaa.fayed@thomsonreuters.com)(+20 2 2578 3290)(ReutersMessaging: shaimaa.fayed.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

Keywords: EGYPT MURSI/SPEECH