1) On what happens if Ouattara takes over Reader akadono asked whether Ouattara’s victory at the Ivory Coast’s last

elections will be overshadowed by recent events: “If - as seems likely - Ouattara wins control of the whole country, can there be a 'loyal opposition'? Is there now going to be some kind of state of emergency where any opposition to Ouattara (even peaceful) is banned?” David responded with his take on what the immediate effects of an Ouattara succession might be: “Gbagbo himself was once hailed as the country's democratic saviour but evidently fell into the big man syndrome. Ouattara will be closely scrutinised and put under pressure to hold elections sooner rather than later, so we have to hope. On the positive side, there is scope for democracy: I'm told last year's election was vibrant and exciting and seemed full of promise. Ouattara's camp also say the country is such a mix of ethnic and immigrant inter-marriage that the faultlines don't run deep.”

2) On the Forces Nouvelles David responded to LeoArgenteuil95’s questions about how the Forces Nouvelles are financed and armed, suggesting that despite the rebels seeming unity there are all ready signs of fractures: “It's worth remembering these rebels are very different from those in Libya - they have ranks, uniforms, weapons and air conditioned offices, and have effectively been controlling the northern half of the country for years. There are already signs of dissent and division among them; there's nothing like a common foe to concentrate the mind and instill unity, but that might not last long if and when Ouattara takes charge. He may well struggle to hold the country together; Gbagbo did get 46% of the vote. Some say the only solution is a consensus figure who promises not to stand at the next election, but I've not heard any viable names mentioned.”

3) On human rights and Ouattara’s reputation Reader hchunt challenged Ouattara’s reputation when it comes to human rights abuses - David explained the potential implications of this on his succession: “All the evidence consistently suggests that Gbagbo's forces have carried out the most and the worst atrocities; Human Rights Watch said they may constitute crimes against humanity. But yes, Human Rights Watch also warned that Ouattara's forces were potentially on the way to facing similar charges. All of which could become awkward if the UN and company seek to anoint Ouattara as the champion of democracy.”

4) On Gbagbo’s fate Responding to @MarkDowe2011 who posted a question via Twitter, David explained the likely scenario for what would happen to Gbagbo if he is arrested by the UN: “I went to a press conference with UN mission in Ivory Coast (UNOCI) chief YJ Choi last month. His message to perpetrators of violence: "Do not have any illusion that you can commit human rights violations with impunity; the days of reckoning are fast approaching; UNOCI is documenting your violations." That implies he'll be arrested and maybe sent to the International Criminal Court like Charles Taylor in neighbouring Liberia.”

5) On Ble Goude, youth minister @tigerkilltomcat suggested Ble Goude, who has been a youth minister under Gbagbo, was someone who should be ousted from Ivory Coast politics in light of recent events. David said the feeling was shared by rebel leaders in the country: “The other day the rebel leaders called Ble Goude an irrelevant "mosquito" who will be dealt with later. They've also claimed he would come over to their side. But he does seem have to disappeared of late. He was elusive even when I was in Abidjan trying and failing to interview him.”

6) On pro-Gbagbo forces and their future and the UN’s decision to launch air strikes Via Facebook, reader Usha Iyer asked David about the decisions that lead to French and UN strikes in Abidjan and whose authority this was under. “Yes, the UN discussed the strikes and requested French assistance, given the latter's superior firepower. A diplomat in Abidjan told me: "Unusual but if they did not the situation in Abidjan would have become chaotic and out of hand. Their actions probably saved thousands more lives than were sadly lost last night. It was good decisive action from them." Usha also asked about what would happen to pro-Gbagbo forces if he is ousted, an issue that David said is being discussed outside of the Ivory Coast: “Desmond Tutu and The Elders have called for peace and reconciliation for the proGbagbo forces. But there has to be a real danger of revenge attacks, especially with the current anarchy and looting in lawless Abidjan. The UN still has much to do to protect civilians, whoever they are and whatever they're suspected of doing.”

Facebook user Shana Bah also questioned France’s involvement in the crisis and asked what will happen to Franco-Ivorian relations in the future if Gbagbo surrenders? David suggested that these relations could improve with an Ouattara government: “I've heard diplomats praise France for playing this one straight, whatever their previous track record in Africa. Some have contrasted their slow military response with that in Libya, but of course for historical reasons they are ultra-sensitive about being seen as an aggressor here. Their relations with a Ouattara government will clearly be better than the last few months with Gbagbo; they could hardly be worse. But I guess they will also to try and fade into the background and let the UN and African Union do the heavy lifting of the postwar aftermath.” 7) On the role of religion in this crisis Responding to a question from user boredinealing, David explained the Ivory Coast’s religious make-up and what possible effect this could have on the current situation and its future: Yes, there's a predominantly Muslim north and mainly Christian south, but during my time there everyone played down the religious divide (as they did, incidentally, when I visited Nigeria). I had a look around the gigantic and somewhat ironically named Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro, a European-style church reputedly built in the capital as a bulwark against the spread of Islam. French Catholic influence is part of the story and religion may be an implicit, not explicit, factor in the complex narrative. The Muslim Ouattara's stronghold certainly is in the north, but we're a million miles away from either side overtly waving flags for one god or another. 8) On the humanitarian situation User mrwalker, who said they will soon be leaving for the Ivory Coast as part of an assessment for an INGO, asked what level of violence could be expected in rural and urban areas if Gbagbo exits and whether food shortages and problems with medical care will increase beyond the current crisis. David said aid agencies have described ‘a total humanitarian catastrophe’:

“The violence is of course unpredictable but I would expect some in all settings revenge attacks, looting, intercommunal conflicts. At its worst, it could resemble Iraq after the fall of Saddam, but I suspect that's too pessimistic. Despite Gbagbo's significant support at the ballot box, I think relatively few of those people are willing to fight and die for him or his legacy. “Everything we hear from aid agencies suggests a total humanitarian catastrophe with every problem you can imagine. Even before the fighting truly erupted, I was told about schools closed, hospitals running out of medicine and, for example, HIV-positive pregnant women being turned away because there's no guarantee of a full course of drugs to prevent transmission to their unborn children. Expect food and water shortages

and outbreaks of disease. But there is a relatively modern infrastructure so the potential for recovery quicker than elsewhere.”

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