Scotland’s former first minister Alex Salmond has announced he is setting up a new political party to contest May’s Scottish Parliament election.
Mr Salmond will stand in the North East region and lead the Alba Party, which will field at least four candidates in the regional lists.
Chris McEleny, an SNP councillor in Inverclyde, has resigned from the Nationalists to stand in the West of Scotland for the Alba Party.
Eva Comrie will stand in the Mid-Scotland and Fife region and Cynthia Guthrie in South of Scotland.
Mr Salmond said: “Over the next six weeks we will promote new ideas about taking Scotland forward, giving primacy to economic recovery from the pandemic and the achievement of independence for our country.
“We expect to field a minimum of four candidates in each regional list and we’re hoping to elect Alba MSPs from every area of Scotland.”
Mr Salmond said the aim of the party is to work towards a “successful, socially just, environmentally responsible, independent country”.
He said: “Today, Alba is hoisting a flag in the wind, planting our Saltire on a hill.
“In the next few weeks, we’ll see how many will rally to our standard.”
The former SNP leader told potential supporters to vote for his old party in constituency seats or “an independence” party.
Mr Salmond added: “The Alba Party is a list party, we are standing only in the list.
“We are not challenging the SNP in the constituencies.
“Indeed we are saying vote SNP or for an independence party on the constituency section. We are giving that support.
“Our campaign that we have launched is going to be entirely positive.”
The statement comes after Mr Salmond announced plans to take legal action over the “conduct” of the Scottish Government’s top civil servant Leslie Evans.
He said the Permanent Secretary failed to take “real responsibility” for failings highlighted in two reports this week about the Government’s investigation of harassment complaints against him.