The king of Himalayan country of Bhutan has abdicated in favour of his son, the state-run newspaper Kuensel said in a statement on its website on Saturday.
"The fourth Druk Gyalpo, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, has handed over his responsibilities as the monarch and head of state of Bhutan to the Crown Prince Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck who now assumes the full responsibilities of head of state as the fifth Druk Gyalpo," the newspaper said.
"The time has now come for me to hand over my responsibilities to Trongsa Penlop Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck," the king was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
The king announced in 2005 that he would abdicate in 2008, when the country is scheduled to hold its first elections. The report gave no explanation why the abdication had come earlier than expected.