By Arab News
A prominent Bahraini opposition leader returned from exile Saturday and urged the kingdom’s rulers to back up reform promises with action.
Hassan Mushaima, who heads Haq movement, was embraced and kissed by a small group of supporters as he returned from months of voluntary exile in London.
Mushaima, who had been among a group of activists previously accused of plotting to overthrow Bahrain’s rulers, called on the government to be more responsive to protesters’ demands for far-reaching political reforms. “Dialogue … is not enough. Promising is not enough. We have to see something on the ground,” he said on arrival at the airport.
Mushaima said any changes should grant more power to the people. Asked if he hoped to lead the protest movement, he said: “I’m always saying to the people, ‘I’m your servant’.”
Prominent opposition activist Muneera Fakhro welcomed the fast-changing developments. “The firing of the three ministers on Friday and the granting of royal pardon to Hassan Mushaima are good signs. These are clear indicators that the government is responding, and responding positively to the demands of the activists,” she said.
She said passions are running very high in the streets and the situation needs to be handled deftly and carefully. “People are very emotional and there is a reason for that; they have lost some of their near and dear ones in the violence last week,” she said. “We met the families of some of the victims on Saturday and they were pretty emotionally surcharged,” she added.
Fakhro felt that the arrival of Mushaima will help speed the process of dialogue with the government. “He is a Bahraini citizen and we welcome his return to his homeland,” she said. “He will soon meet representatives of the opposition and then we will open a dialogue with the government as to where we should go next,” she said. “Since people are restless, they are expecting rapid changes, but such things take time. I am very optimistic that Bahrain will emerge stronger from all these developments.”