Equatorial Guinea's ruling party has expelled 42 of its members for their alleged role in a coup bid late last year, party sources said Sunday.
The ruling Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE) decided to expel them for their role in the failed December 24 coup, said a resolution passed by the party's disciplinary committee on Friday.
Those expelled included a former ambassador, at least two former judges and the former head of security for President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, Africa's longest-serving leader.
They had collaborated with "a group of terrorists and mercenaries", the party resolution said.
In March, the Convergence for Social Democracy (CPDS), Equatorial Guinea's second largest opposition party, said the coup bid had been organised from within the ruling party.
It was, it argued, a sign of the general discontent with the government.
The authorities in the West African country announced in January that they had foiled the coup bid. They blamed the plot on militants from "certain radical opposition parties with the support of certain powers".
Around 30 mercenaries from Chad, the Central African Republic and Sudan were detained in neighbouring Cameroon at the time.
A trial of those involved in the coup plot was due to begin next February, sources close to the regime said, but talks to extradite the mercenaries from Cameroon have not yet been settled.
Equatorial Guinea is one of sub-Sahara's biggest oil producers but a large proportion of its 1.2 million population still lives in poverty.
Obiang seized power in a coup on August 3, 1979, ousting his own uncle, Francisco Macias Nguema, who was shot by firing squad.
He survived a coup bid in 2004 when mercenaries thought to have been backed by British financiers tried to oust him.
Last year, a French court handed down a three-year suspended jail sentence to Obiang's son, Teodorin, who is also vice president, for siphoning off public money to fund his jet-set lifestyle.