Subsequent explanations by his ambassador to the U. S. that the president was handing power to Mr. Suleiman seemed to add to the confusion.
Suleiman, Egypt"s intelligence chief since 1993, has been a frequent visitor to Israel and a mediator in its conflict with the Palestinians.
He said that he witnessed the shooting attack on Suleiman"s vehicle in an area near the presidential palace in Heliopolis in Cairo.
Several times Suleiman disappeared behind a veil of dust, only to emerge out of the cloud just a few feet ahead of me.
One youth movement leader said the alliance could enter such talks if Mr. Suleiman agreed to hold power only briefly and not seek election.
It did not help matters that Mr Suleiman addressed the nation next, praising Mr Mubarak and calling on the youth to return to work.
But even though the military is widely popular with the public, there was no sign that the government shakeup would placate protesters.
"If and when he serves out his term in November, real power will be in the hands of Mr Suleiman. "
President Suleiman assured Mr. Biden that the Lebanese state was preparing to "carry out the election in a fair and transparent way. "
Those powers now belong to no one, Mr. Shoukry said, as he insisted that Mr. Suleiman was now the de facto president.