Germany's nationalist party Alternative for Germany has elected two new top candidates for the September general election, after the party's best-known politician, Frauke Petry, said last week she wouldn't be available.

Members of the AfD elected the far-right politicians Alexander Gauland and Alice Weidel on Sunday at their party convention in Cologne.

Divisions erupted among the different factions of the German nationalists as delegates from the populist AfD rejected an appeal Saturday by Petry to seek a pragmatic political path instead of turning into a "fundamental opposition" party.

Gauland, 76, is one of the party's most prominent members and considered one of Petry's main rivals. Weidel, 38, is a consultant from southwestern Germany. The new duo is likely to move the party even further to the right.