BEIRUT: Lebanon is set to hold parliamentary by-elections for 10 vacant seats by the end of March, a statement from the Parliament speaker's office quoted the caretaker interior minister as saying Thursday.

Caretaker Interior Minister Mohammad Fahmi said parliamentary by-elections will take place at the end of March at the latest, during a phone call with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, according to the statement.

Lebanon has been 10 MPs short since mid-2020, leaving the Parliament with 118 members out of 128.

Eight MPs resigned back in August over the Beirut Port blast: Two MPs from Metn, Sami Gemayel and Elias Hankash occupying Maronite seats; two MPs from the first Beirut electoral district, Paula Yacoubian occupying the Armenian Orthodox seat and Nadim Gemayel, the Maronite seat; Jbeil-Kesrouan district MP Neemat Frem occupying the Maronite seat; Zgharta MP Michel Mouawad occupying the Maronite seat; two MPs from the Chouf-Aley district Marwan Hamadeh occupying the Druze seat and Henri Helou occupying the Maronite seat.

Two MPs died within a week due to coronavirus at the beginning of 2021: Long-standing Metn MP Michel Murr occupying the Orthodox seat who at 88 was the oldest member of Parliament and Tripoli MP Jean Obeid at 81 occupying the Maronite seat.

The Lebanese Constitution stipulates that parliamentary by-elections should be held within two months after a seat becomes vacant, if there are more than six months left of the Parliaments mandate.

The current Parliaments mandate ends mid-2022, meaning there were nearly two years left of its mandate when the string of resignations took place in 2020.

Authorities had cited the pandemic for postponing the by-elections.

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