ElBaradei: Envoy's Mubarak comments caused 'confusion,' 'disappointment'

Egyptian opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei said Sunday that statements from President Obama's special envoy to Egypt caused "a lot of confusion" among Egyptians.

Frank Wisner, a former ambassador to Egypt deployed there this past week to apparently urge President Hosni Mubarak to hand over the reins, said Saturday that the transition "is an ideal moment for him to show the way forward."

"We need to get a national consensus around the pre-conditions for the next step forward. The president must stay in office to steer those changes," he said.

The statements caused outcry from Egyptians on Twitter and blogs, and Agence France-Presse reported that a member of the U.S. delegation said Wisner was speaking as a private citizen and not on behalf of the U.S. government.

ElBaradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, told CNN's Fareed Zakaria that it was an example of the "different voices" being heard on the future of Egypt and Mubarak.


"I mean, the U.S. was very clear that he should go," he said. "Frank Wisner yesterday came with this statement saying that Mubarak must stay, which created a lot of confusion, a lot of disappointment, I should tell you, here in Egypt."

ElBaradei struck a kinder tone with the White House than he did last Sunday, when he told ABC's "This Week" that the administration response was received "like lead" and still was leaning on Mubarak to implement the transition to democracy.

In that interview, he chided the U.S. to "let go of a dictator."

On Sunday, he referenced Obama's Friday statement that Mubarak needed to think about his legacy and make the right transition decision, while not outwarding calling for him to step down now.

"People were very happy with Barack Obama's statement that the time for transition is now," ElBaradei said.

"Mubarak could be, you know, toppled, but it's not really a personal issue," he said. "It's an issue of the future of the country, and people want to see a new regime."

On ABC's "This Week," Egypt's ambassador to the U.S., Sameh Shoukry, said the administration was speaking in Obama's statement Friday, "in which he indicated on several occasions that this was an Egyptian process, that this was an issue that the Egyptian people would decide, and that the importance was an orderly and meaningful transition of the presidency and the new direction towards greater democratic and economic and social reforms."

"Ambassador Wisner is a recognized, very competent and experienced diplomat, as was mentioned by everybody associated to the administration, the spokesman of -- the White House spokesman, and I'm sure his opinion is highly valued," Shoukry said.

This post was updated at 10:20 a.m.