Malaysia's king abdicates: palace statement

  • Published : Jan 6, 2019 - 21:01
  • Updated : Jan 7, 2019 - 10:01

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.

This file photo taken on July 17, 2018 shows the 15th king of Malaysia, Sultan Muhammad V, saluting a royal guard of honour during the opening ceremony of the parliament in Kuala Lumpur. (AFP-Yonhap)

"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.

Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy, with an unique arrangement where the throne changes hands every five years between rulers of the nine Malaysian states headed by centuries-old Islamic royalty. (AFP)