In his first interaction with the media since he was removed from power in February 2011, Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's former leader, has reportedly said President Mohamed Morsi faces a difficult job and it is too early to judge his performance.
Mubarak made the comments in an interview with the newspaper El-Watan on Saturday.The authenticity of the interview could not be immediately verified.
"He is a new president who is carrying out weighty missions for the first time, and we shouldn't judge him now," Mubarak said.
The 85-year-old also said he was concerned about lax security, apparently referring to increased crime, and a rise in activity by armed groups in the Sinai Peninsula.
El-Watan, which published the interview on Sunday, said its reporter broke through security lines to speak to Mubarak, who is facing a retrial over charges of complicity in the death of protesters killed in the popular uprising that swept him from office.
Mubarak said: "History will judge and I am still certain that the coming generations will view me fairly."
The former leader, who was president for almost 30 years, said he was saddened by what he described as the difficult conditions facing the poor and the Egyptian economy.
Hammered by political instability, the economy is in the doldrums and the government is in negotiations with the International Monetary Fund to secure a bailout loan.
"This is the secret of my sadness: to see the poor in this condition," said Mubarak, who was toppled by an uprising fuelled in part by economic hardship.
'Fear for the country'
Mubarak said he was worried by the prospect of Egypt concluding an agreement with the IMF on a $4.8bn loan seen as vital to supporting the economy. The loan would bring austerity measures that could remove subsidy spending.
Economists fault the Mubarak-era subsidy government for failing to target state support at the most needy. The Morsi administration says it wants to better direct the subsidies.
Mubarak said the poor were at the heart of his decision-making, especially when it came to subsidy spending on staples.
"I fear for the country because of the IMF loan," he said.
"Its terms are very difficult, and represent a great danger to the Egyptian economy later on. This will then hit the poor citizen, and the low-income bracket," he said.
With parliamentary elections approaching later this year, the Morsi administration has yet to conclude an IMF deal.