Swahili, a widely used language throughout the African Great Lakes region, was approved as the country’s second official national language in 2005. English was the only official language until the constitution was amended in 2005. Although Swahili has not been favoured by the Bantu-speaking populations of the south and south-west of the country, it is an important lingua franca in the northern regions.
It is also widely used in the police and military forces, which may be a historical result of the disproportionate recruitment of northerners into the security forces during the colonial period. The status of Swahili has thus alternated with the political group in power. For example, Idi Amin, who came from the north-west, declared Swahili to be the national language.