- - Monday, June 18, 2012

BEIJING — A Chinese spacecraft carrying three astronauts docked with an orbiting module Monday, another first for the country as it strives to match American and Russian exploits in space.

The Shenzhou 9 capsule completed the maneuver with the Tiangong 1 module shortly after 2 p.m., 213 miles above Earth. The docking was shown live on national television.

Astronauts will live and work in the module for several days as part of preparations for manning a permanent space station. The crew includes Liu Yang, a 33-year-old air force pilot and China’s first female space traveler.

The docking was a first for Chinese manned spaceflight. In November 2011, the unmanned Shenzhou 8 successfully docked twice with Tiangong 1 by remote control.

Monday’s docking also was completed by remote control from a ground base in China. A manual docking, to be carried out by one of the crew members, is scheduled for later in the mission.

FRANCE

Reformist Cabinet gets new look after vote

PARIS — President Francois Hollande’s Socialist government formally resigned Monday after the legislative election, a tradition that sets the stage for a more muscular leftist government to push through changes such as higher taxes on corporate titans and hiring more teachers.

Mr. Hollande immediately reappointed Jean-Marc Ayrault as prime minister and asked him to form a new government, which was expected to be nearly identical to the outgoing Cabinet.

A government spokeswoman said the new lineup likely will be announced Thursday after Mr. Hollande returns from summits in Mexico and Brazil.

The Socialists vaulted to dominance in the 577-seat National Assembly in Sunday’s election. That gives Mr. Hollande - who was elected last month - the backing he needs to push forward with his leftist reform program.

Final results released Monday showed the Socialist Party won 280 seats, while two closely allied parties garnered a total of 34 seats - giving the Socialist-led bloc 314 seats. In addition, the left-leaning Green Party won 17 seats and the far-left Left Front, led by a former Socialist, collected 10.

KUWAIT

Officials halt parliament for month amid turmoil

KUWAIT CITY — The Kuwait government suspended parliament meetings for a month amid an escalating feud with Islamist-led opposition lawmakers seeking a greater voice in the Persian Gulf nation’s affairs.

The move follows the resignations of two Cabinet ministers in less than a month under pressure from the opposition bloc, which includes conservative Islamist figures.

The official Kuwait News Agency said the Cabinet approved an order Monday by the country’s ruler to suspend parliament sessions for a month - which then spills into the holy month of Ramadan, an official holiday when businesses shut down.

Kuwait has the Gulf’s most politically aggressive parliament that often demands to question top officials.

Tensions flared after the February elections that gave the opposition control of the chamber. Islamists and their allies now also demand seats in the government.

UKRAINE

Tymoshenko to face charges in murder case

KIEV — Ukraine defied Western pressure to end the prosecution of imprisoned former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko, with a top prosecutor saying Monday she will be charged in connection with a murder from 16 years ago.

The statement was likely to draw further anger from the United States and the European Union, which have condemned Mrs. Tymoshenko’s seven-year jail sentence as politically motivated.

Top EU officials are already boycotting the European soccer championship matches hosted by Ukraine this month because of the Tymoshenko case.

Mrs. Tymoshenko, 51, was sentenced to prison in October on charges of abuse of office while conducting natural gas negotiations with Russia.

The former premier, a charismatic heroine of Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution, says President Viktor Yanukovych, a longtime foe, threw her in jail to bar her from parliamentary elections this fall.

Deputy Prosecutor General Renat Kuzmin said in an interview with the Kommersant newspaper published Monday that there is enough evidence to charge Mrs. Tymoshenko in the 1996 killing of Yevhen Shcherban, an influential lawmaker and businessman.

Shcherban was fatally shot at an airport along with his wife and an aide in a contract-style killing.

Mr. Kuzmin said that he has evidence that companies controlled by Mrs. Tymoshenko wired money to pay for the killing, and that he has witnesses who say she organized and financed the hit.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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