Human rights groups are expressing concern about the fairness of legislative elections taking place later this month in Equatorial Guinea.

The tiny country is home to Africa's longest serving strongman, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema.

On Monday, Amnesty International, EG Justice, and Human Rights Watch issued a joint statement saying they are already worried about how level the electoral playing field will be.

The groups cited the country's history of politically motivated arrests and lack of freedom of speech. The government has denied requests from opposition parties to hold political rallies.

Activists also are criticizing restrictions being placed on foreign observers who want to monitor the May 26 vote.

Obiang, who first seized power in a 1979 coup, has insisted that his government is committed to holding fair and democratic elections.