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Voting for Iraqi Council Off to Chaotic Start - 2004-08-18

Delegates at Iraq's national conference are voting on a new council that will oversee the interim government. Several delegates went to the holy city of Najaf to try to end an uprising there, but they returned without having met the leader of the rebellion.

The meeting has been chaotic from the start. The vote was postponed by a day as a delegation traveled to the city of Najaf in a bid to end a radical Shiite uprising, and the Najaf issue overshadowed other business for much of the conference.

The group leader told his colleagues they had not actually met with radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, but he tried to paint the trip in a positive light, saying the conference's message had been delivered.

Then the complicated voting process finally started.

A conference organizer reads the names of candidates for the national council. One by one, they rise from their seats and walk to the front of the room, until 81 people are standing on the stage.

The rest of the delegates then vote yes or no on the entire list of names, not on the individual candidates themselves. Then the whole process starts again for the next proposed slate of would-be council members.

With more than 1,000 people taking part in the meeting, the voting process is expected to take hours.