Scotland's former First Minister, Alex Salmond, has launched a new political party in a major challenge to Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP.
Salmond, 66, said on Friday, 26 March, the Alba Party would field four candidates in each regional list in the elections for the Scottish Parliament in May.
In a statement broadcast on Twitter Salmond said: "I'm announcing the public launch of a new political force: the Alba Party."
"Alba will contest the upcoming Scottish elections as a list-only party under my leadership, seeking to build a super majority for independence in the Scottish Parliament," he added.
Salmond said: "Over the next six weeks we'll promote new ideas about taking Scotland forward, giving primacy to economic recovery from the pandemic, and the achievement of independence for our country."
Salmond led the SNP from 2007 until 2014 and drove up support for Scottish independence.
He resigned after the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence in which 55 percent of Scots voted to stay in the United Kingdom.
Sturgeon has been pressing for a second referendum, claiming that Brexit had totally changed the political landscape.
But British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made it clear the 2014 referendum was a "once in a lifetime" vote.
Some slight Alan Partridge vibes to the Alba Party launch, where the inspirational video has cut off prematurely and it’s just been a minute now of Alex Salmond staring down the camera without saying anything— Philip Sim (@BBCPhilipSim) March 26, 2021
Alba is the old Scottish Gaelic name for Scotland. Only around 60,000 people in Scotland are fluent in Gaelic.
The Labour Party, which was dominant in Scotland until the 2015 election, will hope Salmond's new party splits the Scottish nationalist vote and helps them make a comeback.
One of Alba candidates was top of SNP list in Mid Scotland and Fife— Nick Eardley (@nickeardleybbc) March 26, 2021
Another is serving SNP councillor
Last month Scottish Labour elected a new leader, Anas Sarwar and on he has accused Salmond and Sturgeon of being engaged in "score settling" and "old politics."
Mr Sarwar said on Friday: "We are still in the midst of a pandemic. Lives and livelihoods are still at risk. This election must be about our national recovery and the people of Scotland's priorities, not the old arguments between personalities who believe their interest matters more than the national interest."
Why can't any of them pronounce Alba properly? I'll put a song up for them later......— Pete Wishart (@PeteWishart) March 26, 2021
Salmond was acquitted of charges of sexual assault in 2020 and won £500,000 in legal costs from the Scottish government after its handling of the investigation was ruled unlawful.
Douglas Ross, leaders of the Scottish Conservatives, said: "Alex Salmond is a discredited figure who admitted appalling behaviour towards women during his time as SNP first minister and right-thinking people will want nothing to do with him or his new party."