Reports: Hariri Advises Forming 24-Minister Cabinet to Downsize Demands

Prime Minister Saad Hariri, right smiles after he meeting Lebanon's newly elected President Michel Aoun at the presidential palace in Baabda, east of Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016. Aoun, on Thursday asked former Premier Saad Hariri to form a new government, after he secured an overwhelming parliamentary majority to be named as the next prime minister. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

A suggestion to drop the formation of a 30-minister cabinet and return to the original formula of forming it of 24 ministers is a proposal suggested by Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri who brought up the issue with President Michel Aoun during their meeting Monday, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Tuesday.

The reports said that Hariri has informed Speaker Nabih Berri on the matter during their meeting on Saturday. His suggestion stems from plans to downsize the demands of political parties for ministerial portfolios, taking into consideration to form a national unity cabinet that represents all sides.

It has been noted that President Michel Aoun shall name two ministers, a Shiite and a Sunni, to be part of his share in the new cabinet. In return for that, Hariri and Berri shall each name a Christian minister to be part of theirs, and the Marada Movement will be represented independently of the two.

Reports added that Aoun, Hariri and Berri do not mind that the Marada be given a key portfolio.

The political forces are reportedly pushing for forming the cabinet before Independence Day, which Lebanon marks on November 22.

Horsetrading is currently revolving around the distribution of the so-called sovereign ministerial portfolios – finance, defense, foreign affairs and interior – and other key portfolios like energy and public.