Madonna gets a taste of limbo

LILONGWE - A high court judge yesterday postponed his ruling on a challenge to Madonna's plans to adopt a Malawian baby until next week, court officials and lawyers said.

LILONGWE - A high court judge yesterday postponed his ruling on a challenge to Madonna's plans to adopt a Malawian baby until next week, court officials and lawyers said.

Judge Andrew Nyirenda was unavailable to give his ruling because he was attending a conference, Lilongwe high court registrar Ken Manda said.

Manda said the ruling was now expected next week.

Nyirenda was to rule on a petition by a coalition of 67 human rights and child advocacy groups into the adoption process and to make them party to the assessment of the pop singer's fitness as a mother.

Nyirenda last month granted Madonna and her filmmaker husband Guy Ritchie an "interim order" allowing them to take 14-month-old David Banda to the UK.

The rights groups argue that the government cut legal corners to "fast-track" the adoption because of Madonna's celebrity status.

"Malawi laws are clear that international adoptions are prohibited and that adoptive parents have to be resident in Malawi during the period of assessment," said Maxwell Matewere, executive director of a child rights advocacy group that is part of the coalition.

But Alan Chinula, the singer's Malawian lawyer, described the laws as "archaic, impractical and unrealistic".

"As far as we are concerned, the Ritchies followed Malawian laws to the letter," he said.

Yohane Banda, David's biological father, has said he wants the boy to stay with Madonna.

Banda surrendered the child to an orphanage after his wife died last year after giving birth.

Banda remarried last week to Flora Kamanga, 22, who is three months pregnant. - Sapa-AP

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