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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 November 2006, 13:07 GMT
Madonna faces adoption challenge
Madonna with her children, Lourdes (left) and Rocco, and David Banda
David is currently living with Madonna and her family in London
A judge in Malawi has allowed a coalition of human rights groups to proceed with a legal challenge to pop star Madonna's adoption of a baby boy.

The alliance of 67 Malawian groups lodged a petition before the court last month, saying existing legislation did not allow for intra-country adoptions.

Madonna was granted an 18-month interim custody order which enabled her to take one-year-old David Banda out of Malawi.

The adoption of the boy sparked heated debate around the globe.

Judge Andrew Nyirenda in the Malawian capital, Lilongwe, ruled that the groups could be regarded as "friends of the court" and so could pursue their application for a full review of the interim custody order.

"The applications from both applicants are accordingly granted and they are both joined as amicus curiae," said the judgement, according to the AFP news agency.

The 67 groups wanted to be party to the assessment of the singer's fitness as a mother.

They had argued that the government cut legal corners to "fast-track" the adoption, and said regulations must be followed to protect children.

David is currently living with Madonna and her family in London after she was granted the temporary custody order.

Madonna has denied using her wealth to fast-track the process.

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