Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia‘s king has abdicated, royal officials said Sunday, ending weeks of speculation about his future after he took a leave of absence and amid rumours, he married a Russian former beauty queen.
Sultan Muhammad V’s decision marks the first time a king has abdicated in the Muslim-majority country since it gained independence from Britain in 1957 more than 60 years ago.
“The National Palace informs that his majesty has resigned as the 15th king effective January 6,” said a statement from the palace.
It did not give any reason for the 49-year-old royal’s move.
But there had been a question mark over the reign of the king, who ascended to the throne in December 2016, since he took a leave of absence for medical treatment in November.
Reports then circulated online that he had married a former Miss Moscow in Russia — although royal officials in Malaysia have so far not commented on the rumours.
Speculation intensified about his future this week when the country’s Islamic royals reportedly held a special meeting.
He may serve as acting king before a new monarch is selected by the Council of Rulers, the Straits Times reports.
Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy, with a unique arrangement where the throne changes hands every five years between rulers of the nine Malaysian states headed by centuries-old Islamic royalty.
The current Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had a tense relationship with the Sultans during his past 22-year tenure.
In a blog post last week, he warned that all Malaysians “from the Rulers to the Prime Minister and Ministers, to the civil servants and ordinary citizens” must be bound by the law.
With agency inputs