Sam Rainsy was born on 19 March 1949 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. He was MP from 1993 until 1995 when he was expelled from the National Assembly and again from 1998 until his second removal in 2015. The leader and co-founder of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Rainsy was previously a member of the royalist Funcinpec Party and served as the Minister of Economy and Finance during Norodom Ranariddh’s administration from 1993 until his sacking in 1994.
In June 1995, following his expulsion from the National Assembly, he formed the Khmer Nation Party (KNP), which changed its name before the 1998 elections to the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP). From 2000 to 2002 and again from 2012 to 2014, Rainsy was the chairperson of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD).
Sam Rainsy is one of the most internationally respected politician and pro-democracy activist in Cambodia today. Born into a powerful family in the capital of his homeland, Rainsy grew up with the future king and several political leaders. After his country was invaded and the government disrupted, a divisive fallout ensued which led to Rainsy and his family fleeing to Europe. Following numerous accusations and convictions in absentia followed by royal pardons, he was able to return to his homeland to form the backbone of a democratic opposition to the misrule of the leading party.
Sam Rainsy run against Hun Sen in the Presidential elections. He received the support of Marco Pannella, who campaigned by his side in Phnom Penh in July 2003. He likes to call himself the “Marco Pannella of Cambodia”. He still lives in exile in Paris where he continues to be very active for democracy and the rule of law both in his homeland and across the world.