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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 November 2006, 16:05 GMT
Kenya could halt BBC broadcasts
A young BBC listener in Kenya
The BBC has rebroadcasting deals and 24-hour relays in Kenya
Foreign radio stations in Kenya may be prevented from broadcasting if reciprocal licences are not granted, a government minister has warned.

The UK, US and China had all been put on notice, Assistant Information Minister Koigi wa Wamwere said.

"If we are allowing BBC to broadcast in Kenya, KBC (Kenya Broadcasting Corporation) should also be in London," Mr Wamwere said at a state function.

He said a refusal to reciprocate would be treating Kenyans "like idiots".

The BBC has some 12 million listeners in Kenya - with about half that number listening in Swahili.

KBC should also be allowed to broadcast in Washington and Beijing, he added, as Voice of America and Radio China broadcast in Kenya.

The BBC has rebroadcasting deals with five radio stations in the country and 24-hour relays in Kisumu, Mombasa and the capital, Nairobi.

''If BBC does not reciprocate our giving them a licence here by giving us a chance in London, then we are not going to have mercy because that is treating us like idiots and we shall not allow it," Kenya's People newspaper quotes the minister as saying.

"So they should either give us a licence in London or go."

The minister also spoke to the BBC in Nairobi about the issue.

Diplomatic relations between the UK and Kenya have been strained since 2004 when former UK envoy to Kenya Sir Edward Clay accused unnamed corrupt officials of behaving "like gluttons" and "vomiting on the shoes" of donors.

Last week, a British foreign office minister, Kim Howells, warned that endemic corruption in Kenya had made it a target for drug traffickers and increasingly vulnerable to terrorism.

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