Anger over 'personality cult' around German far-right leader

BERLIN (AP) — The far-right Alternative for Germany is facing a rift after more than 100 elected party officials criticized the "personality cult" surrounding one of its regional leaders.

Dozens of lawmakers and senior members published an open letter Wednesday slamming the party's chief in Thuringia state, Bjoern Hoecke, following a weekend rally.

Hoecke, whose ties to right-wing extremists have drawn scrutiny from Germany's domestic intelligence agency, told supporters Saturday that he would oust the party's current national executive. He later handed out medals to members of his faction, known as The Wing.

German news agency dpa reported that party co-leader Alice Weidel is urging members to avoid "public mudslinging" ahead of three upcoming regional elections in which the party hopes to enter government at the state level for the first time.