Nightly News | February 10, 2011
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Well, we're back, and hold the phone here. We have on the telephone Egypt 's ambassador to the United States , Sameh Shoukry . And, Mr. Ambassador, tonight you placed a call to cable news kind of giving us a new definition of the speech we all saw by Hosni Mubarak . What's your understanding of what he's done tonight?
Ambassador SAMEH SHOUKRY (Egyptian Ambassador): Thank you very much for having me. I was interested to clarify the situation. Apparently there was a misinterpretation of the Arabic text of the speech, and I just wanted to clarify for objectivity sake that the president had transferred the authority of the office of the president to the vice president. So in effect, all authorities of the president of Egypt have been now bestowed on the vice president, who is effectively now undertaking those responsibilities.
WILLIAMS: But, Mr. Ambassador, Hosni Mubarak remains the titular president of Egypt and he remains in Egypt , and you'd have to agree both of those appear to run counter to the goals of the protesters?
Amb. SHOUKRY: I think the protesters are able to express their opinion how they viewed these developments. They are accorded the freedom to do so under the protection of the military, and they will decide to what extent this development has fulfilled their demands. During the speech there was also quite an extensive reference of the ongoing reform process that would continue under the guarantee of the military, and that issues related to a peaceful and orderly and meaningful transition of power would be undertaken under the legitimacy of the constitution of Egypt .
WILLIAMS: But, Mr. Ambassador, what you're saying he said, why didn't he just say that?
Amb. SHOUKRY: He did. He did say that he had transferred the authority of the president to the vice president very clearly.
WILLIAMS: Well, by our translation, the version I heard, there was a modifier there, it was not that specific. Thus, I would argue...
Amb. SHOUKRY: The Arabic text...
WILLIAMS: ...we wouldn't have this much confusion in Tahrir Square in Egypt .
Amb. SHOUKRY: Well, the -- what I heard in terms of an English translation was incorrect. I have the text in black and white in front of me, and there is no qualification other than that this is undertaken under the terms of the constitution.
WILLIAMS: Well, I'll have to ask you if this worries you. A -- on Twitter tonight, Mohamed ElBaradei , and I'm quoting, has said, " Egypt will explode. Army must save the country now." And it certainly looks like, Mr. Ambassador, we're headed into a volatile next 24 hours. A lot of people are scared of this outcome.
Amb. SHOUKRY: We are in challenging times. Egypt -- the people of Egypt are seeking reform, are seeking greater democracy and governance. And of course, we all look forward that these measures will be undertaken. We hope that if there are demonstrations, they will be peaceful as they have been during this last week. And everyone has indicated -- the military has guaranteed that he would continue to protect the rights of Egyptians to express their opinions freely and in all circumstances.
WILLIAMS: So the corrected record is Mr. Hosni Mubarak holds the de jure legal title of president of Egypt . The de facto president of Egypt , meaning day-to-day control, under your understanding, is the vice president, Mr. Suleiman .
Amb. SHOUKRY: That is my understanding. That is what has been confirmed to me by authorities in Egypt quite categorically.
WILLIAMS: Sameh Shoukry is the ambassador to this country from Egypt . Mr. Ambassador, thank you very much for calling in to us tonight. We appreciate your