Malaysia's royal council meets after king's surprise resignation

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Sultan Muhammad V is stepping down immediately as the 15th King of Malaysia after serving since December 13, 2016, according to a statement from the palace on Sunday which gave no reason for the abdication.

The January 6 announcement did not provide a reason for the King's decision to step down from the largely ceremonial position, in which he had served only two of his five-year term.

He is said to have married a 25-year-old former Russian beauty queen in November while on a two-month medical leave.

Many Malaysians were shocked by news of the nation's historic first royal resignation.

The Conference of Rulers today decided that Perak's Sultan Nazrin Shah will continue his duties as the acting Agong, following the resignation of Sultan Muhammad V.

His abdication is a first for Malaysia since the country gained independence from the United Kingdom more than 60 years ago.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said earlier Monday that it was up to the Council of Rulers to pick the new king, but added that he hoped it would be done quickly.

Royal officials in Malaysia have so far not commented on the rumoured marriage, or given any details about the state of the king's health.

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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.

Malaysia's nine ruling monarchs concluded a meeting at the Istana Negara on Monday (Jan 7) after the King, Sultan Muhammad V, stepped down on Sunday in an unprecedented move.

Officially, the King said he was on medical leave.

Malaysia has nine royal households with the ruler changing every five years.

Constitutional expert Professor Salleh Buang told the New Straits Times the Conference of Rulers would offer the office of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to the ruler who qualifies for election and thus depends on which ruler is next on the election list, and provided he accepts the office.

Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar thanked Sultan Muhammad V for giving a full pardon to her father, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Muhammad V was previously married to a member of another Malay royal family in 2004 but the couple divorced in 2008.