Malaysia royals to pick new king Jan. 24 after abdication

An official says Malaysia’s royal families will meet Jan. 24 to pick a new king after Sultan Muhammad V abdicated unexpectedly just after two years on the throne.

The 49-year-old ruler resigned Sunday as Malaysia’s 15th king, marking the first abdication in the nation’s history and cutting short his five-year term. No reason was given, but the move came after he reportedly married a 25-year-old former Russian beauty queen in November.

Keeper of the Ruler’s Seal, Syed Danial Syed Ahmad, says the Council of Rulers held a meeting Monday and set Jan. 24 to elect a new king. He said in a statement Monday that the new king would be sworn in Jan. 31.

The council comprises nine state rulers who take turns as Malaysia’s king for five-year terms.