A group of Saudi dissidents in Britain, the US, and elsewhere announced the launch of an opposition party on Wednesday, the first organized political party formed on the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Saudi regime.

Iran PressMiddle East: Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy that does not tolerate any political opposition, and the formation of the National Assembly Party on the anniversary of the kingdom's founding comes amid a growing state crackdown on dissent and freedom of expression.

"We hereby announce the establishment of the National Assembly Party, which aims to institute democracy as a form of government in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia," the group said in a statement.

The development poses a fresh challenge to Saudi Arabia's rulers as they grapple with low crude oil prices and gear up to host a G20 summit in November amid the coronavirus pandemic.

There was no immediate reaction from Saudi authorities.

The party is led by prominent London-based human rights defender Yahya Assiri.

Its members include Britain-based academic Madawi al-Rasheed, researcher Saeed bin Nasser al-Ghamdi, activist Ahmed al-Mshikhs, US-based Abdullah Alaoudh, and Canada-based Omar Abdulaziz, sources close to the outfit told AFP.

"We are announcing the launch of this party at a critical moment to try to save our country... to institute a democratic future and to respond to our people's aspirations," Assiri, the party's general secretary said.

Assiri, a former Royal Saudi Air Force officer, founded the London-based human rights organization ALQST, which has cataloged what it calls widespread state abuses including arrests of women activists, academics, and royal family members in Saudi Arabia.

The announcement comes at a time when "the scope for politics has become blocked in all directions", the party statement said.

"The government constantly practices violence and repression, with mounting numbers of political arrests and assassinations, increasingly aggressive policies against regional states, enforced disappearances and people being driven to flee the country," it added.

But the absence of an independent judiciary, the government's tight control of the local media, and "muzzling of public opinion" were other factors that led to the group's formation, the party statement said.

Saudi Arabia has long faced international criticism over its human rights record.