Cambodia's Premier Hun Sen has sought to defend himself against accusations that Cambodian students who fail to attend a speech he will give in the French capital this week may lose their scholarships.
The Prime Minister -- the world's longest serving -- used his official Facebook page to denounce allegations in a French radio report that the scholarships would be revoked if the students did not attend one of his talks.
"I feel very ashamed of the opposition party that tried to deceive people like this," he said, according to the government's Agence Kampuchea Presse. "I've never ever forced anyone to sit and listen to me."
Cambodia Daily reported that the opposition, Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) president Sam Rainsy has said that he had nothing to do with spreading the rumor.
Hun Sen arrived in Paris on Sunday, a day after protesters rallied ahead of his three-day trip to meet with French President Francois Hollande.
The Phnom Penh Post on Monday said the rally held in the country's Human Rights Plaza was organised by groups of expats calling for action against Cambodia's "deliberate violations of national and citizens' rights".
"The majority of the protesters were Cambodian who [had taken] foreign citizenship, therefore those individuals. . . have no rights to interfere [with] the internal affairs [of Cambodia]," the Post reported his Cambodian People's Party as saying in a statement.
In a letter sent to Hollande on Friday, the International Federation for Human Rights called on the president to ask for the release of "four environmental rights defenders".
They also asked that "14 members and supporters of the opposition CNRP, one senator [Hong Sok Hour] from the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, two Buddhist monks, and one student," be set free, as well as urging Sen to scrap draft versions of the Trade Union Law, the Cybercrime Law, and the Telecommunications Law.
Hour holds dual Cambodian-French citizenship.
During the visit, Hun Sen is to sign off on a number of joint tourism and education projects.