Madonna Tangled In Political Battle Over Girls Academy
MADONNA is tangled in a political row surrounding her multi-million dollar girls academy in Malawi - after African officials threatened to arrest villagers protesting its construction.
The facility, which is being funded through the star's Raising Malawi charity, will provide education for 200 local girls in the capital city of Lilongwe who are too poor to afford schooling.
Construction on the school, which will cost $13.5 million (£9 million) to build, started last month (Oct09) but 140 villagers are demanding more money for land the government has leased to Raising Malawi for the next 99 years.
Senior government officials and executives at Raising Malawi failed to reach an agreement in talks with village representatives on Thursday (05Nov09) in a bid to resolve the dispute - and protesters now face arrest.
Lilongwe District Commissioner Charles Kalemba says, "If we cannot agree on this and if you cannot understand that this is government land, then I will have no choice but tell police to arrest you people for blocking development work on the site."
Construction on the school is expected to reach completion by 2011.
The pop superstar has close ties with Malawi after adopting two children from the region - four-year-old David Banda in 2006 and three-year-old Mercy James earlier this year (09).