President Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea said a war was being organised against his regime, days after a government official announced the discovery of a “destabilisation attempt”.
A “war” is being prepared “because they say I have spent a lot of time in power,” the president said on Saturday, without saying who he was referring to.
Neighbouring Cameroon had arrested a group of nearly 40 heavily armed men who were headed into Equatorial Guinea on Wednesday.
Equatorial Guinea’s Ambassador to France, Miguel Oyono Ndong Mifumu, said the incident was an “invasion and destabilisation attempt”.
The arrests were followed by the detention of “dozens” of activists on Thursday, according to the main opposition party. Citizens for Innovation (CI) party said the activists were detained at its headquarters in the capital Malabo and the port city of Bata.
Obiang, Africa’s longest-serving leader, called on his supporters to be “vigilant”.
“I want a happy transition, I do not want war,” the 75-year-old told state television.
“I am not in power because I want to be. When you want to, you can tell me: ‘President, you have already worked a lot’ and I will go away.”
The CI said at least 50 activists had already been detained since a 12 November general election that saw Obiang’s ruling party win a landslide victory with 92 percent of the vote.
The election was widely criticised by opposition groups as fraudulent.
Equatorial Guinea, which also borders Gabon, is one of sub-Sahara’s biggest oil producers but a large proportion of its 1.2 million inhabitants still lives in poverty.