Debates erupted and hunger strikes ensued. Political analysts have described the move as electioneering ahead of the Oct. 28 parliamentary election, a crude attempt to divide and conquer voters.
In part, however, it was a smokescreen. What took place in the days after the vote could damage the country just as much as any divisions over language.
Just hours after the language law vote captured media attention, pro-presidential lawmakers passed a state procurement law that experts say could further entrench corruption by making bidding procedures even less competitive.