The president of Malawi has accused singer Madonna of demanding VIP treatment, exaggerating her charity work and being "a musician who desperately thinks she must generate recognition by bullying state officials instead of playing decent music on the stage".
Joyce Banda's office issued an extraordinary statement saying the singer "thinks she deserves to be revered with state grandeur" and needs to learn "the decency of telling the truth".
Madonna accused Banda of lying, and her spokeswoman suggested the claims were linked to the removal of the president's sister as head of Madonna's humanitarian organisation in Malawi.
The war of words is a disaster for Madonna's complicated relationship with the country, which she first visited in 2006. She adopted two Malawian children and runs several projects but was bitterly criticised after abandoning plans to build a $15m elite academy for girls.
She became accustomed to VIP status on previous trips, including when she arrived there last week, but received a rude awakening when she learned upon leaving that she and her travelling party would have to queue with other passengers and be frisked by airport security.
"There was a directive that Miss Louise Ciccone, travelling on an American passport, and her children Lourdes Maria Ciccone Leon, Rocco Ritchie, Mercy James, David Banda Ciccone Ritchie should use the ordinary passenger terminal on their way to their jet," an aviation official, who did not wish to be named, told Associated Press.
Banda was reportedly angered by Madonna's claims that she has built 10 schools in the country.