Malaysia’s Royal Council Meets After King’s Surprise Resignation

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Malaysia’s royal families have met to decide when a new king will be elected from among them after King Muhammad V unexpectedly resigned, according to the country’s national news agency Bernama.

The king abdicated on Sunday after just two years on the throne, the first time a monarch has stepped down before completing their five-year tenure. No reason was given for the resignation.

Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy and while the king assumes a largely ceremonial role, his assent is needed for the appointment of a prime minister and various other senior officials.

The country’s nine royal families take turns to elect a king through a vote in the Council of Rulers, which is made up of the nine households.

The heads of six of the nine households met on Monday at the national palace to decide a date for the election of a new king, Bernama reported. It was not clear why the other three did not attend.

A vote must be held within four weeks of the throne becoming vacant.

King Muhammad, 49, who comes from the northeastern state of Kelantan, had resumed duties last week after two months on medical leave.

Images purporting to show him getting married in Russia appeared on social media in December and identified his new wife as a model and former Miss Moscow, Oksana Voevodina.

The marriage has not been confirmed by either the palace or the government.