Sultan Muhammad V steps down as Malaysia's king

Sultan Muhammad V has stepped down as Malaysia’s king after a week of speculation about the monarch’s status following his two-month leave of absence

KUALA LUMPUR: A new Malaysian king will be elected and sworn in this month, royal officials said Monday, after Sultan Muhammad V abdicated in a historic first following his reported marriage to a Russian former beauty queen.

On Friday, Mahathir declined to comment on rumours that Sultan Muhammad V had married a former Miss Moscow during the king's leave late past year, saying he had no official knowledge of it.

Muhammad V is the first monarch to abdicate the throne since the Muslim-majority country gained independence from Britain in 1957. The Oxford-educated 49-year-old had been on medical leave for the past two months and was officially scheduled to return on January 1.

He is the current deputy king and performed Muhammad V's duties after he went on medical leave at the start of November.

Reports circulated online earlier claimed that the king in November had married a former Miss Moscow in Russian Federation.

The announcement concludes a week of rumors and uncertainty regarding his future as king, and a mysterious - and rare - mid-week emergency meeting conducted by the eight other state sultans, from which the (now former) Agong was notably absent.

Mahathir's had a thorny relationship with Malaysia's royalty since 1993, when he changed the constitution to remove their legal immunity and scrapped laws barring people from criticizing the king.

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In 2016, the Sultan of Johor claimed he had been offered the role of king, bypassing both Kelantan - Muhammad V's home state - and Pahang, saying he had rejected the offer out of respect for the rotational system.

They held a meeting on Monday to decide the next steps for electing the new monarch, according to the statement published by Bernama.

She said that the Miss Moscow pageant in 2015 had been a random opportunity, as she was asked to join together with her friend, who eventually did not make the cut.

Portraits of the king and queen adorn government buildings throughout the country.

Malaysia's sultans trace a lineage back to Malay sultanates of the 15th century.

The news of his resignation, which became known late Sunday evening received a myriad of reactions, expression of affection and the highest appreciation for the service of Sultan Muhammad V during his reign as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

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