A Bahraini opposition figure was set to return to the Gulf Arab country on Tuesday after a week of unprecedented protests by Shiite Muslims against the Sunni monarchy.
Hassan Mushaimaa, leader of the opposition Haq movement, said on his Facebook page on Monday that he wanted to see if the island nation's leadership was serious about dialogue and would arrest him or not. He was due to arrive on Tuesday evening.
Mushaimaa, who is based in London, is one of 25 people on trial since last year over an alleged coup plot but a statement by King Hamad bin Isa on Monday hinted that the trial would be shelved, allowing Mushaimaa an unhindered return.
State media said the king had ordered the release of unspecified convicted prisoners and a stop to ongoing court cases, in what opposition figures say they understand to be a reference to the trial.
It was not clear if this would be enough to bring opposition groups into a dialogue that King Hamad has asked his son, the crown prince, to conduct. The protests, inspired by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, were peaceful.
The protesters want Bahrain to move towards a constitutional monarchy, in contrast to the current system where Bahrainis vote for a parliament that has little power and policy remains the preserve of a ruling elite centered on the ruling dynasty.
The al-Khalifa family, which has ruled Bahrain for 200 years, dominates a cabinet led by the king's uncle, who has been prime minister for 40 years since independence in 1971.
The opposition also wants the release of political prisoners.
On Monday the government cancelled the Mar. 13 opening race of the Formula One season in Bahrain. "At the present time the country's entire attention is focused on building a new national dialogue for Bahrain," Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa said in a statement.
Protesters have set up camp at Pearl Square in the capital Manama where they gathered on Monday demanding more say.
Thousands carried Bahraini flags and signs supporting unity and the dialogue proposed by the government.