Humza Yousaf has been urged to take “decisive action” by his former SNP leadership rivals. Kate Forbes, who narrowly came second, said the party would be “in trouble” if it fails to act.
Meanwhile, former leadership candidate Ash Regan added her voice to calls for Nicola Sturgeon, Peter Murrell and Colin Beattie to be suspended.
The SNP crisis deepened yesterday with the arrest of treasurer Mr Beattie as part of Police Scotland’s ongoing investigation into how more than £600,000 in donations to the party earmarked for an independence referendum had been used.
It came two weeks after former SNP chief executive Mr Murrell – who is married to Ms Sturgeon – was arrested and questioned, before being later released without charge, with the couple’s home also being searched by officers.
Ms Forbes told BBC Radio 4’s Leading Scotland Where? programme, which airs tonight, that “right now, people are watching with astonishment, but they want to see leadership in dealing with it and resolving it”.
The former Scottish finance minister said: “I think we need decisive and quick action or we will be in trouble.”
Speaking about the party’s situation, she added: “I think right now, people are watching with astonishment, but they want to see leadership in dealing with it and resolving it.”
She said that the SNP was “trusted” on various policy areas, adding: “What the people of Scotland want is good education, a good functioning NHS, a growing, well performing economy.
“These are the issues that matter. And if we can fix and sort the problems within our own party quickly and ensure we are delivering on those external issues, then I think we can continue to build on the trust and success.
“The danger will be if there is an absence of decisive and quick action.”
She added: “We are at a pretty critical moment and it will be the response and the reaction that determines how big a problem this is for the SNP.”
Ms Forbes stated: “Right now with questions over integrity, trust, transparency – I think voters are watching extremely carefully.
“We perhaps have the next election in the early part of next year.
“They will vote in that election on the basis of how we have sorted out our internal problems – even more than that, how we govern.
“There is still time to sort it out. But, I said throughout the campaign, I’m afraid I’m going to say it now – continuity won’t cut it”.
Meanwhile, Ms Regan backed calls by opposition parties to suspend those involved in the police probe.
She told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme: “I think if it’s found that people have been involved in something of this nature, that certainly until that can be cleared up, whether that’s one way or the other, they should be suspended from the party.
“I think this can be resolved with decisive action, and I think that action should be taken to restore confidence both of members of the SNP and the public as well.”