Protesters injure 1 officer at nationalist party convention

But the party has lost about a third of its supporters since late previous year, hit by a slowdown in migrant arrivals, AfD infighting and controversy over its attitude to the Nazi past.

Speaking in a video message posted on her Facebook page, Petry said she had been accused of making the proposal exclusively to become the party's top candidate despite her not mentioning that idea in her motion.

"As long as the party doesn't recognize where it wants to go, then this campaign must be led by protagonists who can live with this non-decision better than I can", Petry told reporters on Saturday.

The convention takes place days after Petry said that she won't be her party's top candidate in the September general election, a move seen by many as a effect to the party leaders' infighting about the future direction of the AfD. She conceded that its wording had "scared members", but said she hadn't meant to do so and was prepared to reword it.

Petry did not, however, suggest any plans to step down as party chairwoman.

Protesters have injured one police officer while trying to block the hotel in Cologne where the nationalist Alternative for Germany party is holding a two-day convention. According to the poll, a total of 8 percent of German citizens would choose the party if elections took place on Sunday, in comparison to 10 percent in February.

The shock decision by Petry, the face of the AfD, removes her from the very top of a party that has hurt Angela Merkel's conservatives in regional votes but which may now pose less of a threat to the chancellor's bid for a fourth term in office.

Frauke Petry, co-leader of the Alternative for Germany (AfD), said on Wednesday she would not lead the anti-immigration party's campaign for a September 24 federal election - a surprising move that could play into the hands of established parties.

Unlike far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in France, its leaders have no foreseeable chance of winning the general election in Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel is seeking a fourth term after almost 12 years in power. Last year, AfD beat Merkel's party in the eastern Mecklenburg-Vorpommern region, winning about 21 percent of votes. Mainstream parties have ruled out the AfD as a possible coalition partner.

Analysts expect her party to struggle to find a replacement matching her public profile within the crucial coming months, and say it could be damaged by the appearance of a far-right candidate.

A government report warned of rising political violence from both the left and right wing since the start of the refugee crisis.

Earlier it was reported that Cologne authorities have chose to establish a no-fly zone over the city center ahead of a meeting of the AFD, to be on April 22-23. "That will become even clearer as the election approaches".

  • Leroy Wright