Report: Forming a Cabinet of 24 Ministers Surfaces amid Aoun’s Support

A general view of Beirut's Ottoman-era Grand Serail, the seat of the Lebanese government, taken 11 December 2003. A protest by Lebanese professors and students was held outside the building today to show support for public Lebanese University lecturers and to demand more funding and autonomy. AFP PHOTO/Joseph Barrak / AFP PHOTO / JOSEPH BARRAK

After reports that the cabinet could be formed of 30 ministers instead of the original 24, reports said Monday that the 24-minister cabinet has surfaced again and that President Michel Aoun is “enthusiastic” about the latter for what he sees as better “productivity.”

Parties closely related to the process of lining-up the cabinet are mulling the inclusion of 24 ministers in the government to “escape the torrent of heavy demands for sovereign and service-related portfolios so that everyone is forced to control their demands and adapt to the new measure,” As Safir daily said.

According to information obtained by the daily, President Aoun strongly approves this criterion because he wants a “government that can achieve maximum productivity in a short time schedule.”

A 30-minister cabinet cannot achieve that goal according to Aoun because “it will be stuffed with state ministers which does not encourage too much optimism,” according to the daily.

But the sources added that a final decision has yet to be reached and that forming a government of 24 is still a subject under discussion.

Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri finished consultations with lawmakers last week, and started working on the formation of the cabinet which faces some obstacles regarding the distribution of the so-called sovereign portfolios and some important and service-related portfolios.

The formation process could take months, with horsetrading likely to revolve around the distribution of key posts like the interior, defense and energy ministries.