KUALA LUMPUR-Malaysia's King Muhammad V abdicated on January 6, the palace said, after two years on the throne, the first time a monarch has stepped down before completing their five-year tenure.
It came after the king took leave at the start of November for two months, during which time unconfirmed reports circulated that he had married a Russian former beauty queen.
Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy, with a unique arrangement where the throne changes hands every five years between the rulers of the nine Malaysian states headed by centuries-old Islamic royalty.
A week ago, the king, 49, had resumed duties after spending two months on medical leave.
"We Malaysians pray for his health and that he is protected by Allah".
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Johor's Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar and Sultan Nazrin Shah of Perak, who is now the deputy king and is carrying out the functions of the king until a new one is elected, are the next two names in the rotational system.
The king resigned on Sunday after just two years on the throne, the first time a monarch has stepped down before completing their five-year tenure.
Rumours had been swirling that the king might step down after a rare meeting was convened amongst the country's nine state rulers recently.
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.
Sultan Muhammad V has made preparations to return to his home state of Kelantan.
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While their role is ceremonial, Malaysia's royalty command great respect, especially from Muslim Malays, and criticizing them is strictly forbidden.
Sultan Nazrin Shah has been named as acting Agong pending the appointment of a new Agong following the abdication of Sultan Muhammad V as the 15th Agong.
Other political figures thanked the King for his service. But the monarch is highly regarded, particularly among the ethnic Malay Muslim majority, as the supreme upholder of Islam and Malay tradition.
Sultan Muhammad V's resignation was in accordance with Article 32 (3) of the Federal Constitution, comptroller of the Royal Household Wan Ahmad Dahlan Ab Aziz said.
Sultan Muhammad himself was selected on the final day of a three-day sitting of the Conference of Rulers in 2016.
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