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Egypt Ambassador: Suleiman "De Facto Head of State"

Vice President Omar Suleiman
Vice President Omar Suleiman

Egypt's ambassador to the United States tried to clear up the confusion over what President Hosni Mubarak meant in his speech when he said he was handing over authority to Vice President Omar Suleiman.

Amb. Sameh Shoukry told host Wolf Blitzer on CNN's "The Situation Room" that Suleiman assumes all powers of presidency, making him the de facto Head of State under article 82 of the Egypt's constitution.

"Mubarak has no power is an interpretation you can make. He is de jour head of state," Shoukry said. He told Blitzer that his statement regarding the new power structure in Egypt  came directly from Vice President Suleiman.

Suleiman will now be undertaking all decisions and responsibility of the office, including the military, Shourky said. Neither Mubarak or Suleiman will have the power to dissolve the parliament.

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Mubarak will remain in the seat of the presidency, but it is unclear what role he will have over the coming reform process. Suleiman and Mubarak have long worked together governing Egypt. Suleiman was appointed Director of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate (EGID) in 1993, and held that position until Mubarak tapped him as vice president in January 2011.

Following Mubarak's vague speech, Suleiman  advised the protesters, "...go back to your houses, go back to work, the homeland needs your work, do not listen to the satellite stations that have no objective but to weaken Egypt and mar its image,"

In concluding his speech, he called for civilized dialog to resolve the crisis:

"We have already started, God willing and depending on the armed forces that have preserved the revolution of young people and preserved safety of people and their property. Let's walk together in one team in civilized dialogue to resolve the crisis, together in one Egyptian determination," he said.

CNN's Fareed Zakaria concluded that Suleiman is in concert with Mubarak's desire to remain in office, even without much of a portfolio, and hoping to wait out the protesters.

"What you just witnessed is Omar Suleiman discrediting himself as any kind of transitional figure," he said. "Omar Suleiman, the vice president, could have been the man who ushered in a new Egypt. He wouldn't have lasted but he would have been the man who brokered it all. But he has decided to stick with his boss. ... Suleiman is a former general, former head of military intelligence and President Mubarak's consigliere. ... The regime is hoping that it can wait out these protesters. But I think the big mistake for the last two weeks that the regime has made is that it has kept assuming that these people are going to go home. And they don't go home - the crowds just keep getting bigger and bigger and stronger and stronger. Friday will be a very crucial day because my guess is that you'll see the largest protest you've ever seen in Egypt."

In contrast to the apparent rage reported in Tahrir Sqaure over Mubarak's speech, youth protest leader Wael Ghonim told CBS News he can live with Mubarak's offer. Ghonim said: "For me, like, you know, preserving his dignity would be something I understand, and, you know, I'm not sure if the people in Tahrir Square would connect to his - you know, to his speech. I hope they would."