BANGKOK (AP) — A military-backed party has taken the lead in Thailand's first election since a 2014 coup, preliminary results showed, suggesting junta leader and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha could stay in power, helped by an electoral system tilted in the military's favor. With 93 percent of votes counted late Sunday, the Palang Pracharat party was first with nearly 7.6 million votes, according to the Election Commission. Its vote total falls short of the numbers needed for an outright majority in parliament. Pheu Thai, which was the governing party ousted by the coup, was next with 7.1 million votes. The country likely faces several weeks of bargaining among political parties before a potentially unstable coalition government is formed in May or June.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand's prime minister has announced a top-level inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the massacre of 50 people in two Christchurch mosques. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the country's highest form of investigation, a royal commission of inquiry, was appropriate for "matters of the gravest public importance." Her Cabinet had previously agreed on holding an inquiry, but had not decided what kind of investigation would be held. She said the Cabinet agreed Monday a royal commission of inquiry "will look at what could have or should have been done to prevent the attack." An Australian white supremacist has been charged with murder for the March 15 attacks.
PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — Swedish diplomats are keeping a room ready for the U.S. to use if it ever decides to have an official presence in the North Korean capital. The unmarked, slightly musty room next to the Swedish ambassador's office in Pyongyang's diplomatic quarter has been kept in an odd state of limbo for years. On one shelf sits an issue of the Pyongyang Times from the days of detente between the late leader Kim Jong Il and President Bill Clinton. The top shelf is taken up by a newer edition — with a photo of the North's current leader, Kim Jong Un, and President Donald Trump on its front page.
DUNEDIN, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealanders are debating the limits of free speech after their chief censor banned the 74-page manifesto written and released by the man accused of slaughtering 50 people at two mosques in the city of Christchurch. The ban, issued Saturday, means anybody caught with the document on their computer could face up to 10 years in prison, while anyone caught sending it could face 14 years. Some say the ban goes too far and risks lending both the document and the gunman mystique. At the same time, many local media organizations are debating whether to even name the Australian man charged with murder in the March 15 attacks, 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant, after New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern vowed she would never mention him by name.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been hailed on social media by Muslims around the world for her response to two mosque shootings by a white nationalist who killed 50 worshippers. She wore a headscarf at the funerals in line with Islamic custom and swiftly reformed gun laws. An image of the prime minister embracing a grieving woman was projected onto the world's tallest tower in Dubai over the weekend with the Arabic word for "peace." Yet for many Muslims, Ardern's most consequential move was immediately labeling the attack an act of terrorism. That stands in contrast to numerous ideologically-motivated mass shootings in North America by white non-Muslim gunmen that were not labeled acts of terrorism, say Muslim leaders and terrorism experts.
MONACO (AP) — Chinese President Xi Jinping has found one country in Europe that isn't worried about China's growing global clout or its ambitions to dominate the future of technology: Monaco. Xi visited the tiny Mediterranean principality Sunday as part of a European tour that is clouded by mixed feelings about how to engage with China and benefit from its trade — while setting limits on its appetite for greater economic and diplomatic influence. Xi's appearance alongside Monaco's Prince Albert and Princess Charlene marked the first state visit by a Chinese president to the principality. The palace said Monaco is interested in increased trade and economic cooperation with China and "boosting China's image in the principality." Monaco last year clinched a deal with Chinese tech company Huawei to develop its 5G telecommunications network — a thorny issue for several European countries.
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia's long-awaited first subway opened Sunday in the country's capital with the aim of relieving crippling traffic gridlock in Southeast Asia's biggest economy. Minutes after inaugurating the 16-kilometer (10-mile) transit line running south from Jakarta's downtown, President Joko Widodo presided over a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the beginning of the second phase: an 8-kilometer (5-mile) northward line planned for completion by 2024. The two projects are being built at a cost of $2.6 billion. "Today we will begin a new civilization by operating the first phase of mass rapid transit in Jakarta," Widodo told several thousand guests and residents at the inauguration.
SYDNEY (AP) — Residents of Australia's northwest coast were bracing for a torrid night of fierce winds and heavy rain on Sunday as the country's second major cyclone of the weekend slowly wound toward land. A day after Cyclone Trevor hit a remote part of the Northern Territory coast, slow-moving Cyclone Veronica settled just off the coast about 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) to the west, in the Pilbara region of Western Australia state. While that area is also lightly populated, residents were warned that because the cyclone was moving unusually slowly — at less than 1 kilometer (half a mile) per hour — they would likely have to shelter for several hours.
CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) — As soon as vascular surgeon Adib Khanafer received the call March 15, he started running toward the operating theater at Christchurch Hospital. At that point, he had no idea a white supremacist had slaughtered 50 people. But he could hear an urgency in the request for help. "When I walked in, I found a young girl, a 4-year-old, on the table, with three pediatric consultants working on her trying to stop the bleeding," he says. "So this was a shock for me really. I just could not believe what I was seeing." Khanafer, who is Muslim and knew some of those killed in the attacks at two Christchurch mosques, says he typically fixes veins and arteries on adults in controlled environments.
MOSCOW (AP) — Kazakhstan has renamed its capital to Nur-Sultan, in honor of the country's longtime leader who resigned this week. The order to change the city's name from Astana was issued Saturday by interim President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who took power after Nursultan Nazarbayev resigned on Tuesday. Nazarbayev led Kazakhstan for nearly 30 years, first as Communist boss in the last years of the Soviet Union then as president of the independent country. In 1997, Nazarbayev moved the capital from Almaty, turning a provincial town noted for severe winters into a showcase of modernist architecture, including an observation tower where visitors are invited to touch a handprint of the leader.