BEIRUT: Thanks to some creative digital manipulation, the first official photograph of the entire Cabinet lineup included all 24 members, as well as Prime Minister Tammam Salam, President Michel Sleiman and Speaker Nabih Berri. The original photo was taken without Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk and Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas, who were late for the session.
The absence of the two ministers was recorded by employees at Baabda Palace who informed Sleiman. The latter demanded that another photo be taken once the two ministers were present.
But by the time Machnouk and Derbas arrived, Berri was rushing to leave the palace in order to catch a flight and refused to pose again for the photo, telling Sleiman he did not have another moment to spare.
The palace protocol staff then suggested placing Sleiman’s adviser Adib Abi Akel in Berri’s place, and retaking the photograph with the two ministers. The photo was then edited with Berri’s image pasted over Akel.
Prime Minister Tammam Salam Saturday announced the formation of a 24-minister Cabinet divided equally between March 14, March 8 and the centrists, 10 months and one week after his appointment as premier-designate.