Malaysia has crowned a new king after the surprise abdication of the former monarch to marry a Russian model, although they are already allegedly divorced.
Malaysia is unique in having elected monarchs, with the heads of nine royal families rotating as king every five years.
Abdullah, who has been on the Fifa Council, football’s governing body, used his coronation speech to call for an end to ethnic divisions.
“Playing with fire will burn not only oneself but also the whole village,” Abdullah said.
The new king promised to promote unity and tolerance among different groups and religions, Bernama reported.
“I will put the people first, respect the old and honour the young. I will express all this with great humility,” the 60-year-old said, welcoming Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s effort to strengthen unity through the establishment of the Consultative Council for People’s Harmony.
Sultan Muhammad V of Kelantan, 49, abdicated in January this year after just two years on the throne. He recently married Oksana Voyevodina, 27, a former Russian model, in a secret ceremony in Barvikha, an exclusive Moscow suburb.
He was the first monarch to resign since Malaysian independence from Britain in 1957.
Voyevodina, who was Miss Moscow 2015, has converted to Islam, taking the name Rihana Oksana Petra.
In June she posted details on Instagram of their love story, wedding and the birth of their son, Tengku Ismail Leon.
But the couple have reportedly already split up at the former king’s request and a copy of a divorce certificate has circulated online.
The New Straits Times reported that the divorce was finalised by saying the word “talaq” three times, the archaic Islamic form of divorce.
On July 20, Koh Tien Hua, the sultan’s lawyer, was quoted saying that the divorce was conduced according to sharia law with two Muslim witnesses.
But Voyevodina has since denied the reports. “I wonder what the hell is going on?” she posted on Instagram.
The stories of a divorce were “garbage”, she said on the social-media site. “My husband is a good Muslim, he would not take such action without my knowledge,” the Russian added.
The coronation of Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin. Picture credit: YouTube