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Malaysia's king abdicates: palace statement

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.
    "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.

Published : January 06, 2019

By : Agence France-Presse, Kuala Lumpur