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Bahrain opposition leader returns home

By the CNN Wire Staff
Bahraini Shiite opposition leader Hassan Mashaima greets anti-government protesters gathered at Pearl Square in Manama on Saturday, February 26, upon his return from self-imposed exile.
Bahraini Shiite opposition leader Hassan Mashaima greets anti-government protesters gathered at Pearl Square in Manama on Saturday, February 26, upon his return from self-imposed exile.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Hassan Mushaimaa leads the opposition Haq Movement
  • He has been living in exile
  • Mushaimaa has vowed to join the anti-government protests

Manama, Bahrain (CNN) -- The leader of Bahrain's largest opposition party said Saturday he has arrived back in Bahrain days after the country's king closed the case against him.

Hassan Mushaimaa, leader of the Haq Movement, had planned to return earlier in the week to give a speech on the importance of national unity. His return was delayed by his detention in Lebanon, which he blamed on Bahrain's rulers.

Mushaimaa said after arriving in Bahrain that he was preparing a speech about the protesters' demands for a new regime.

Thousands of people have been demonstrating in Bahrain in recent days for political reforms and other concessions. Mushaimaa had earlier said he planned to join the protesters.

The anti-government rallies in Bahrain have occurred alongside similar protests in other regional states, but they also unfolded amid major gestures by the kingdom.

Bahrain's King Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa touted a "national dialogue" and urged Bahrainis "to engage in this new process" and "move away from polarization," a government statement said Tuesday.

Mushaimaa said Saturday he doesn't believe the king's offer for dialogue.

"They are always lying -- they are promising to do something and they don't do it," he told CNN about the monarchy.

"We talked about dialogue for a long time. Nobody listened, nobody heard us," he said. "They are just listening now because of the pressure. If the pressure will finish, they will not listen again."

Mushaimaa, who has been living abroad, had previously been detained by the government for campaigning for more democratic rights in the island monarchy.

In September, Bahrain said it requested Interpol -- the world's largest international police organization -- to help in arresting Mushaimaa, whom the government accused of a terrorist plot to destroy state buildings and of planning a coup.

Monday, King Hamad ordered the release of a number of prisoners and closed cases against several Shiite leaders accused of plotting against the kingdom. That cleared the way for Mushaimaa to return to Bahrain from London, where he had been living in exile.

Mushaimaa's Haq Movement is more hard-line than the opposition Wefaq party, which includes 18 people in the 40-member parliament. Many members of his movement are opposed to the government monarchy.