Paris : French President Nicholas Sarkozy has charged Francois Fillon once again with forming a new government, the president’s office announced Sunday.
The move came one day after Fillon stepped down as prime minister along with his government to pave the way for Sarkozy to conduct a long-awaited cabinet reshuffle.
The formation of the new cabinet is expected later Sunday. Government sources said it will only feature 26 ministers and state secretaries, instead of the previous 37.
Former premier and foreign minister Alain Juppe, who now serves as the mayor of Bordeaux, is expected to return to the cabinet as defence minister.
Speculation has been rife about the overhaul, the fourth of Sarkozy’s presidency. It had been hinted at in the spring after the government’s poor showing in regional elections.
The president has seen his popularity decline further over the introduction this month of a pension reform that increases the retirement age by two years.
Analysts say Sarkozy is hoping to use the reshuffle to polish his image prior to an expected bid for a second term in presidential elections due in 2012.