By Ray Fleming

SADDAM Hussein's ghost walked through the UN Security Council chamber this week when three UN resolutions dating from his time were formally brought to an end. The resolutions concerned the oil-for-food programme, the prohibition of any nuclear activity and the control of assets from Iraq's oil production.

The initiative to put these more or less dormant matters into the UN's archives came from the United States which is currently chairing the Security Council. It was part of the tidying-up exercise in which the US is engaged with only one year now left before all its military personnel must leave Iraq and a war and occupation which by then will have lasted for eight years.

However, not all the unfinished business of Saddam Hussein's regime and the war which ended it has been dealt with. Ten months after the last election there is still no new government in place and all the indications are that even if some kind of coalition is stitched together it will not be strong enough to deal with the continuing sectarian violence in the country. Iraq, despite all protestations to the contrary, is far from a normal country -- US and UN staff still have to live and work in a secure compound in central Baghdad and can leave it only with heavy protection. Life for ordinary Iraqis is hard, and uncertain for the hundreds of thousands of refugees who have still not been able to resume normal living.


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