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Villagers to Be Arrested for Blocking Madonna's School Construction

February 13, 2010 (3:34 am) GMT
Government officials in Malawi warn villagers, who demand more money to leave their homes, to make way for Madonna's $13.5 million girls' school project.
Madonna

Government officials in Malawi have urged local villagers opposing the construction of 's $13.5 million girls' school to start moving out of the area - as the land has now been handed to the pop superstar. Madonna is using her Raising Malawi charity to fund a facility that will provide schooling for 200 local girls who are too poor to pay their way through education.

Construction on the site outside the nation's capital Lilongwe started in October 2009 and has caused uproar among many villagers, who demanded more money to leave their homes on the government - owned land. Lilongwe District Commissioner Charles Kalemba warned residents they will be arrested if they continue to block the development, and on Thursday, February 11, he addressed the 200-strong crowd again to insist they begin to make way for the project.

Kalemba told them the land now belongs to Madonna - as it has been leased to her charity for the next 99 years. Head of the village Binson Chinkhota stood by the government, urging his people to move on for the good of their offspring, saying, "We have been compensated and this school is a pride for us as it is the future of our children."

Anjimile Mtila-Oponyo, who will be the school's principal, has insisted the project is still on schedule for 2011, after villagers were given $115,000 from Madonna's foundation in compensation.

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