Egypt's Possible Next Leader Bizarrely Cancels Television Appearance, But Calls In To Say That Egypt 'Is Falling Apart'

Mohamed ElBaradeiThen-International Energy Agency Director General Mohamed ElBaradei speaks during the World Economic Forum (WEF) on the Middle East in Sharm el-Sheikh May 19, 2008.

Mohamed ElBaradei, who has emerged as Egypt’s interim prime minister, canceled an appearance on “Meet the Press” Sunday morning. But when speaking with host David Gregory by phone, he told the NBC host that Egypt is “falling apart.” 

Gregory said on air that ElBaradei said he was ill with laryngitis and a fever. 

Here’s how Gregory described the unusual sequence of events:

Now we turn to the developments in Egypt. Chaos on the streets. The big story of the weekend was that Mohammed ElBaradei was to be named the interim leader of the country. Then that was walked back. And just hours ago, Dr. ElBaradei cancelled his appearance with me here on Meet the Press. I was able to reach him by phone. He said he had laryngitis and a fever, is under doctor’s order not to do any television interviews. But there’s indeed a lot of confusion about what’s going on and whether the opposition to him being an interim leader was what was really at work here. He told me that he expects to be named as early as today formally the leader of Egypt. But he also said, his words, that “the country is falling apart.”

Reports on Saturday had said that ElBaradei, a Nobel peace Laureate and a former director of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, was set to be named the country’s interim prime minister. But those reports were later walked back amid objections from Egypt’s ultraconservative Islamist party.

ElBaradei did tell Gregory by phone that he expects to be named Egypt’s leader as early as Sunday.

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