The publication of Cambodia's First Socio-economic Development Plan, ( FSEDP ) 1996-2000 is a significant event representing a major step in the country's re-emergence from Pol Pot's Killing Fields and long years of civil war. Moreover, the document is, technically speaking, a competent, realistic product, crafted by Cambodia's donors, to put that unfortunate country back on the road to reconstruction and sustainable development. Technical quality aside, however, Cambodia is bedevilled by deep-rooted political, cultural and historical problems which cast serious doubts about future prospects. Indeed, precisely because these problems remained unresolved, and in particular because the donors assume that aid alone can save Cambodia, the country could, once again, slide back into chaos and civil war. Before sustainable development can take hold in Cambodia, its history, culture and political legacies need to be analysed realistically, and the lessons of the past must be effectively incorporated into its development strategy. This paper is a small contribution towards that end. The paper is organised in five parts. After this introduction, part two briefly highlights the principal targets and priorities of the FSEDP 1996-2000. Part three is a brief historical survey to provide the bare-bones context for the genocide of 1975-79, dealing with its external and internal causes. The fourth part presents an analysis of Cambodia's present coalition politics, which contain the same seeds of disunity that led to the civil war in the early 1970s and the tragedy of Pol Pot. The final part concludes with a brief review of challenges and future prospects.