Bhutan's King Jigme Singye Wangchuk will step down from his throne in 2008 and make way for his 25-year-old son Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, national newspaper Kuensel reported on Monday.
The announcement, made by the king himself in a remote hamlet of the Himalayan Kingdom on Saturday, shocked the people who have seen him as king for the last 33 years, the report said.
'It is necessary and important for a king to gain as much experience as possible to serve his country to his fullest capacity.
'It is my wish and prayer that the Palden Drukpa (Bhutan) will remain strong and glorious, that our country will achieve greater prosperity with the sun of peace and happiness shining on our people, that all the national objectives of the country and the hopes and aspirations of our people will be fulfilled and that Bhutanese people will enjoy a greater level of contentment and happiness,' Kuensel quoted the King as saying.
The king made the declaration on Sunday while addressing the nation the occasion of its 98th National Day at the remote mountain-top township of Tashi Yangtse.
'I would like our people to know that the first national election to elect a government under a system of parliamentary democracy will take place in 2008,' the King told a stunned gathering, the report said.