Members of Malaysia's royal families agreed on Monday to vote for a new king on January 24 to replace King Muhammad V, who has stepped down unexpectedly, the national news agency Bernama reported. 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.
Malaysian royals to vote for a new king
No reason was given for the resignation. King Muhammad, 49, had only just resumed duties last week after spending two months on medical leave. Images purporting to show him getting married in Russia appeared on social media in December. Posts identified his new wife as Oksana Voevodina, who won a Miss Moscow contest in 2015.
Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy and the king assumes a largely ceremonial role, including acting as custodian of Islam in the Muslim-majority country. The king's assent is needed for the appointment of a prime minister and various senior officials.
Malaysia's nine royal households take turns to provide a king, who is chosen through a vote in a Council of Rulers, made up of the nine households, most of which are led by a sultan. A vote must be held within four weeks of the throne becoming vacant. 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.
The council agreed that a new king would be voted in on January 24, and would formally take the throne on January 31, the council said in a statement posted on the Bernama Twitter feed. One sultan could not attend as he was unwell, while another was overseas, the council said. The third sultan who was not present was King Muhammad.