A summit between Saudi Arabia and Africa took place in Riyadh. Several African heads of state and government attended this inaugural event, themed “Development and Prosperity.” A delegation from Niger, led by the Prime Minister appointed by the CNSP (Conseil national pour le salut du peuple), Ali Mahamane Lamine Zeine, was present. This marked Niger’s return to the international stage, three and a half months after the coup that ousted President Mohamed Bazoum.
“The Niger is back,” said the CNSP-appointed Prime Minister on national radio and television. Ali Mahamane Lamine Zeine believes that by participating in this summit, his country is closing the chapter of ostracism. By attending the Riyadh summit, Niger, suspended by ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) after the July 26 coup, and excluded from international events like the latest United Nations General Assembly, demonstrates that it is not an isolated country.
According to Ibrahim Yahaya Ibrahim, Deputy Director for the Sahel at the International Crisis Group, Niamey is also reinforcing its already strong ties with Saudi Arabia. In 2017, he recalls, Niger, for example, recalled its ambassador to Qatar in solidarity with Riyadh, which had severed diplomatic relations with Doha.
Niger is likely to seek new partnerships or aid as the country grapples with the consequences of ECOWAS sanctions. Ali Mahamane Lamine Zeine had already announced an agreement with the Saudi Development Fund for the construction of girls’ hostels in Niger on the eve of the Riyadh summit.