Madonna denies Malawi 'demands'
Madonna has denied accusations from Malawi leaders that she exaggerated her contributions to the southern African country and that she demanded special treatment during her tour there last week.
The singer, who has adopted two children from Malawi and runs several projects there, was apparently denied VIP treatment upon leaving the country after her last visit and was told she and her travelling party would have to line up with ordinary passengers and be frisked by airport security.
A strongly worded statement from the president's office accused Madonna of trying to use her fame and money to press Malawi into giving her special treatment.
"Granted, Madonna is a famed international musician. But that does not impose an injunction of obligation on any government under whose territory Madonna finds herself, including Malawi, to give her state treatment. Such treatment, even if she deserved it, is discretionary not obligatory," the statement said.
The presidential statement also questioned Madonna's intentions behind her humanitarian efforts in Malawi, alleging that the singer "wants Malawi to be forever chained to the obligation of gratitude."
President Joyce Banda was reportedly angered by Madonna's claims that she has built 10 schools in Malawi, and questioned that statement in widely quoted remarks last week.
"Where are the 10 schools she has built? She is just building school blocks at already existing schools. In some cases she just renovated an already existing block. This is an insult to the people of Malawi. She can't be lying to the world at our expense," Banda said.
In a statement released by her spokesperson, Madonna said she was "saddened" that Banda "has chosen to release lies about what we've accomplished, my intentions, how I personally conducted myself while visiting Malawi and other untruths. I have no intentions of being distracted by these ridiculous allegations.
"I did not ever ask or demand special treatment at the airport or elsewhere during my visit. I will not be distracted or discouraged by other people's political agendas. I made a promise to the children of Malawi and I am keeping that promise."
A spokesman for Madonna suggested the attacks were influenced by the fact that the President's sister had been removed as the head of Madonna's organisation in Malawi.