The French president has caused an outcry after dozens of infant school children were forced to chant 'Long Live Sarkozy!' when he visited their school.

Parents complained about the youngsters being used as 'propaganda tools' after they were made to treat Nicolas Sarkozy as a hero, waving Tricolour flags and constantly shouting his name.

Some were even kissed by Mr Sarkozy, who is hugely unpopular and widely expected to lose the presidential election being held in France in the Spring.

© Agency France Presse/Getty Images
Controversy: Nicolas Sarkozy (centre) with Mayor of Lavaur Bernard Carayon (second left) at a visit to a day-care centre in Lavaur. At a nearby infant school children were forced to chant 'Long Live Sarkozy' when he visited.

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Photo opportunity: France's President Nicolas Sarkozy has been accused of using children as 'propaganda tools'.
'Our children were given little red, white and blue flags and told to shout out "Long Live Sarkozy!"' said Cyril Atlan, whose son attended Mr Sarkozy's visit to Lavaur, near Toulouse, in south west France, on February 7.

Some 140 children from a local school were forced to line the steps of the town hall, said Mr Atlan, who said parents were given no say in the matter.

As is often the case with 5ft 5in Mr Sarkozy's 'photo opportunities', he was made to look a lot taller with children as young as five surrounding him.

Coralie Lestrade, another parent, said: 'They not only used our children without authorisation, but very specific recommendations were given to the children.

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The president (right) was also accused of posing for a photos with workers he had bussed in to make him look more 'inclusive'.
'These included that they should behave themselves, stand in line, shout 'Sarkozy, Sarkozy', and wave small French flags.'

Stephanie Taulelle, a mother with children at the Lavaur Infant School, said: 'Personally we did not want our son to participate in this event.'

But Joseph Dalla Riva, the deputy mayor of the town and a member of Mr Sarkozy's ruling UMP party, insisted that there was 'no manipulation', and that the children were simply taking part in a 'historic' and 'exceptional' day which they 'would remember all their lives'.

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Unveiling: Nicolas Sarkozy pictured delivering a speech on his family policy programme in Lavaur, south-western France.
Last week, Mr Sarkozy was accused of bussing in dozens of fake black workers to make him look more 'popular and inclusive' during a tour of a building site near Paris.

Claude Bartolone, a Paris Socialist MP, said Mr Sarkozy should receive a 'best director Oscar' for organising such 'impressive' photographs.

The President, who is widely expected to lose the May election to Socialist rival Francois Hollande, has often been accused of busing in extras to improve his image.

Three years ago the 5ft 5ins head of state banned all tall people from a stage he was appearing on in Normandy because he did not want to look too short.

He was also reported to have banned tall bodyguards from his presidential protection team.