Know your Constitution: The official language of the Republic of South Sudan

The Republic of South Sudan is the newest country that has seceded from the former united Sudan in July 2011 after many years of liberation struggles for many reasons. With communication as one character of national identity, the political leadership adopted English as the official working language.

Article 6 (1) of the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan 2011, as amended, provides that “all indigenous languages of South Sudan are national languages and shall be respected, developed and promoted”.

Notwithstanding the above article, Arabic language is not an indigenous language of South Sudan. The arabization of the then Sudanese nation, amongst other discriminatory policies of an institutionalised inequality in all formations caused the war of liberation for nearly forty years since August 18, 1955. This is because the largely population of the African descent in the South are not Muslim nor speak and write Arabic language.

After independence, South Sudan totally departed from the use of Arabic Language and article 6(2) of the Transitional Constitution provides that” English shall be the official working language of the Republic of South Sudan, as well as language of instruction at all levels of education.

Why is Arabic still being used in almost all institutions of government including the Judiciary which is a primary custodian of the constitution and laws of the land? The use of Arabic language should stop or else public interest litigators shall institute petition for constitutional interpretation as soon as possible.

Adv. Beny Gideon Mabor

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