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German Vice Chancellor Gabriel condemns infighting over refugee crisis

German Vice-Chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, has criticized the dispute between the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU). The two are at loggerheads over the refugee crisis.

In an interview with German publication "Spiegel Online" on Friday, the leader of the Social Democrats (SPD) said that "mutual blackmail and abuse" between the two parties was "unworthy and simply irresponsible."

A number of CSU members as well as members of Chancellor Angela Merkel's own CDU have voiced their concerns over Germany's refugee policy in recent weeks.

"Given our country's great challenge due to the huge influx of refugees, the dispute between the CDU and the CSU now threatens the government's legal capacity," Gabriel said.

Bavarian ultimatum

The vice chancellor's comments on Friday followed an ultimatum laid out by Bavarian Premier and CSU Chairman Horst Seehofer last week.

After weeks of criticizing German Chancellor Angela Merkel over the handling of the refugee crisis, Seehofer demanded that the government impose a limit on the number of refugees arriving in Germany or else face political and legal consequences.

Bavarian Finance Minister Markus Söder (CSU) also warned on Wednesday that the CDU-CSU coalition found itself "in the most difficult situation since 1976" when the CSU member of parliaments voted in favor of breaking away from their sister party.

The CSU rejected any speculation about an impending spilt of the Union on Friday, however.

"Neither the termination of the parliamentary group nor the removal of CSU ministers from the federal government are useful options, so nobody is considering this," CSU Regional Faction Leader, Gerda Hasselfeldt stressed.

Watch video 01:51

German conservative rift grows over refugees

No sign of easing influx

The number of refugees crossing the German-Austrian border shows no sign of easing in the coming weeks, with thousands more asylum seekers expected to travel through the Balkan states to reach Germany.

The vice chancellor is due to meet with Merkel and Seehofer on Sunday to further discuss a solution to the refugee crisis.

ksb/kms (reuters, AFP, dpa)

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