We Didn’t Start the Fire: My Struggle for Democracy in Cambodia

Sam Rainsy’s Cambodia National Rescue Party won a surprising 47 percent of the vote in the country’s National Assembly elections last summer, capping a series of contests during the past 20 years in which the party, under various names, won a growing vote share despite electoral manipulation and violence meted out by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party of Prime Minister Hun Sen. To explain his commitment to confronting Cambodia’s entrenched elite in the face of legal persecution and assassination attempts, Sam Rainsy has written an autobiography that reaches back to his childhood, his father’s exile and assassination, his work in Paris as a financial manager, and his interest in the Moral Re-Armament movement and Buddhism. The book is also a manifesto pitched to foreign governments and nongovernmental organizations, asking them to stop propping up the Hun Sen regime with development aid. In it, Sam Rainsy explains how he would combat corruption, land grabbing, nepotism, patronage, and other ills if he came to power.

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