Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy rejected his prime minister's offer to resign and asked him to stay on the job Friday after he was caught on tape saying Zelenskiy — a former sitcom star with no previous political experience — knows nothing about the economy.
In a video released by Zelenskiy's office, the president called the situation "unpleasant" but said he had decided to "give a chance" to Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk and his Cabinet.
The furor comes at a fraught moment for Zelenskiy, who has found himself in the middle of the impeachment case unfolding against President Donald Trump in Washington. Trump stands accused of withholding nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine to pressure the country's leader to investigate Trump political rival Joe Biden.
In a Facebook post earlier Friday, Honcharuk praised Zelenskiy as "an example of transparency and decency to me" and added: "In order to dispel any doubts about our respect and trust for the president, I have written a resignation letter and submitted it to the president for introduction to parliament."
The offer to step down was subject to approval by the Rada, Ukraine's parliament. But analysts expressed doubt the resignation would come to pass.
"Zelenskiy doesn't want to dismiss Honcharuk," said Volodymyr Fesenko, head of the Penta think tank.
Ukraine's president fears prompting a political crisis in the country by doing it and doesn't want to complicate his relationship with foreign investors and the International Monetary Fund, said Volodymyr Sidenko, an analyst with the Razumkov Center think tank.
"Honcharuk's resignation can destroy the idea of the government's unity and cast a doubt on Zelenskiy's ability to control the situation," Sidenko said.
Earlier this week an audio recording surfaced in which Honcharuk appeared to make disparaging comments about Zelenskiy's understanding of economics. He called Zelenskiy "a layman" in economics and said the president should be better educated about the national currency.
Zelenskiy is a 41-year-old former comedian whose only political experience before his election last spring consisted of playing a Ukrainian president on TV. He starred in "Servant of the People" as a high school history teacher who is propelled to the highest office after his rant against government corruption goes viral.
Honcharuk said that the recording was a compilation of "fragments of recorded government meetings," and he blamed unidentified "influential groups" for making it look as if he didn't respect the president.
"It is not true," the prime minister insisted.
On Thursday, lawmakers from the opposition party Opposition Platform-For Life demanded Honcharuk's resignation, saying he and his cabinet had discredited Ukraine's president and exacerbated the economic crisis in the country. Members of the ruling Servant of the People party said there were no grounds for Honcharuk to step down.
The scandal shows that different political forces have started a fight for the position of prime minister, according to Fesenko, the political analyst. Sidenko blamed Ukrainian oligarchs, saying they are trying to destabilize the country politically because the strengthening of the nation's currency hurts their export-related businesses.
Zelenskiy called for an investigation into the source of the recording, saying, "I demand that in two weeks, as soon as possible, we obtain information on who was recording the tapes."
While Zelenskiy is a member of Servant of the People party and Honcharuk is an independent, it was Zelenskiy who proposed him to the parliament as prime minister.
As the nation prepares for the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday amid a "dire" election year, the Atlanta center named for him will offer nonviolence training, voter registration and visits from politicians, entertainers and sports figures, King's daughter said Thursday.
The impeachment of President Donald Trump and a tumultuous climate in the United States make this year's commemorative event all the more crucial, Bernice King told reporters.
"This is an election year. For many people this is a dire election year," she said. "And I say that on both sides of the equation. Both sides of the aisle."
"We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now," she added, echoing a phrase her father employed in landmark 1967 sermon. Voter registration will take place at the series of events, as well as a demonstration of the workings of new voting machines, in hopes of encouraging voting and reducing wait times at voting sites.
The activities will be held at and around The King Center, from Jan. 10-20, in the neighborhood where the civil rights champion lived. Events include a two-day nonviolence workshop to educate and train others in the protest method that King employed, and a K-12 event focused on celebrating the differences in people.
The Atlanta events also include a "day of service" at Ebenezer Baptist Church on Jan. 18 in honor of King, who was pastor of the church until he was assassinated in 1968.
Politicians, entertainers and sports figures are expected to attend various events, Bernice King said. Visitors to The King Center will also be able to take part in a new "digital footsteps journey," she said. It's an interactive display where visitors walk on a path connected to software that reveals the energy they generated with each step, and shows the various devices that energy could power.
Sri Lanka's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on Friday lifted a ban imposed on drones within the island country, local media reports said.
The CAA in a statement said drones can now be operated in conformity of civil aviation regulations.
The CAA suspended the operation of all pilotless aircraft including drones last May, soon after the Easter Sunday terror attacks in April which killed over 250 people.
The CAA had said the ban had been imposed considering the volatile situation in the country after the blasts.
At least 14 people were killed by gunmen who invaded a village in Nigeria's northern state of Zamfara, a police spokesman said on Friday.
An unknown number of people were also wounded in the attack on Babban Rafi village in Gummi local government area of the state, said Mohammed Shehu, the spokesman for Zamfara state police.
The gunmen, whose motive was unknown, were suspected to have invaded the locality through neighboring Kebbi state, in northwest Nigeria, Shehu told Xinhua.
Local sources said the gunmen rode on more than 40 motorcycles, shooting everyone at sight. Livestock and some valuable items belonging to the villagers were also taken away by them.
Governor Jay Inslee of the U.S. state of Washington on Thursday complained that a state court ruling will negatively affect his government's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Inslee was responding to a ruling by the Washington State Supreme Court that voted 5-4 earlier in the day to reinstate a severely limited version of his plan to cap carbon pollution in the state.
The court partially invalidated the state's Department of Ecology's 2016 Clean Air Rule, saying that clean air standards cannot apply to "indirect emitters" that do not make their own emissions, such as fuel distributors and natural-gas companies.
The Department of Ecology only has the authority to regulate "actual emitters" who burn the fuel, the court said.
Inslee argued that the ruling would significantly affect the state's ability to cut emissions.
"This underscores the need for legislative action this year to combat climate change. I am optimistic we will see such legislation make it to my desk this session," he said in a statement.
"Our state will not give up on its commitment to the preservation of our environment, nor our message to the politicians in the other Washington: Action on climate change cannot wait," he said.
Washington has vowed to cut emissions by 20 million metric tons by 2035, but Inslee said Tuesday that the state is still 30 percent short of its 2035 statutory requirement of having emissions drop 25 percent below 1990 levels.
He urged the lawmakers to approve the Clean Fuel Standard to cut the emissions, nearly half of which come from transportation.
A recent survey by the Department of Ecology showed transportation emissions accounted for 45 percent of the state's total, with aviation fuels representing about 9.5 percent.