Free @ Last

December 19, 2008 at 9:31 am 5 comments

Question: What do the small town of SeQota, the metaphorical usage of the term “Sikuar” and the owner of Shadia Supermarket Kaliti Prison (thank you Eskinder) have in common?
Answer: Ex-Deputy Prime Minister and Ministry of Defense Tamrat Layne!

Whenever I think of Tamrat Layne, I remember this good looking young man in a cheap green jacket (and straight white teeth) giving an interview on the first few months of EPRDF’s arrival in Addis. “Now He is cute”, most of us have observed with relief, “they say he is better known by the TaGaaIs than Meles Zenawi who has spent most of his time in London”.

A few years later a Sales-girl colleague who sashayed on Hilton Hotel’s Runway before joining our import-expert agency and still has connections to the place, told me there were some things that weren’t so cute about Tamrat. She talked about an unholy, adulterous, union with one Shadia Adem. A beautiful woman whose bedroom skills no ex-TaGaDaLit-wife seem to be able to keep up with resulting with many an ex-TaGaDaLaaI-husband going astray. What bothered her most, however, was the fact that the lady in question was way too old for the young official. “Even her sons are older than him!” she said bitterly “but he’s too blinded by lust to see he’s being played. I mean, what kind of a family is this? Sons who use their mother, like some prostitute, to get money? And a mother who whores herself with a man half her age so her sons could do business with him? It’s an abomination!”.

An abomination is exactly what it turned out to be. In 1997, the Chairman of the Amhara National Democratic Movement (one of the four parties in EPRDF) and a close personal friend to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Ato Tamrat Layne, found himself in jail. The charges, according to Addis Fortune, were “involvement in grand corruption… with three counts of abuse of power and office, including decision to borrow 16 million dollars from Sheik Al-Amoudi on the government’s behalf and helping his associates benefit from illegitimate transaction of coffee made to repay the loans.”

The news of him actually being convicted and serving time still came as a surprise. “AyaDergutm!” most of us have argued confidently; giving it as our opinion how this act of ‘betrayal’ of/on an old Comrade would make the remaining members of EPRDF’s Central Committee feel they were disposable. Creating a resentment, we have said, to the point of “Amets” of those TeGadalays who fought under Tamrat and survived the “bad ole times” by mixing dust with a bit of sugar for food.

But the impossible happened. Meles held Tamrat’s head between his hands, gave him a vicious kiss on the lips and said “I know it was you Fredo. You’ve broken my heart!”.

He got 18 years for it, 18 years in the company of his former enemies. Then we heard about the many trials of Mrs. Layne, the fact that his kids felt they were being followed by “YeneSemhar Abaat’s body guard”, that ‘Sikuar’ may or may not have been the only reason for his falling out with his old buddies – that his stand on Issaya’s government may have something to do with it, etcetera. Then, Hayelom died. We left Tamrat to rot in prison.

Fortunately, and unbeknownst to us, both Tamrat and “YeTamrat Layne Wedajoch” (including his daughter Blen), have been busy writing letters requesting pardon for the ex-Defence Minister in the last couple of years. According to ETV’s report of this morning, the entreatings on these letters have been heeded to. Ex-Deputy Prime Minister and Ministry of Defence, Ato Tamrat Layne, will be set free after 12 years of incarceration this morning.

A word of advice anyone?

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. sistu  |  December 19, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    Not deliberately meaning to steal (sikuar bergiT yatalilal) your lead-in, Abesheet, but thank God almighty he is free at last. Not very knowledgeable about the technicalities of his guilt but he has always been somebody who inspired a genuine ‘mts’, at least for me. If it was indeed corruption that did him in, it is still sad as most of us are corrupt anyways (give me a nice isras and I will show you if I won’t run with it, adelem the millions). Besides, it did/does not seem fair that he was rotting in prison while his ekuyoch (yetegbar) partied on the outside. Either join him or have him join them.

    Btw, the clearest memory i have of him is that of ETV news shots of his poor cute self standing by that yeferedebet court room mini-atir thingie, 1 or 2 figures away from Shadia Keyo (is that her?) keek bila zenita. Used to get a whole lot of ‘esssssssshhhh/zimbbbbbbeyyyy’s during his segment of the news, so I wasn’t a big fan. Heard about the adultery thing too, although my version involved ‘lijochu meehonu girls’, specifically over at that basement of concord hotel @ dome. [ere ene heje alakim, ho]. And seem to remember the image of him sitting Tekomatiro (or ‘techebito’ as my mom would say) as Meles delivered his ‘sikuar’ philosophy with a tinge [ample signs] of glee, if you ask me.

    Anyways, just saw his interview out of prison and I can’t believe he would have the kininet to sound so selam-felagi, even outwardly. And, i can’t resist saying, i’m glad that i signed [one of] the petitions for his release although I had no expectation that it would come to any fruition. Not a big believer in petitions but that one seemed a bit meaningful to me… i’m justifying myself. wird kerase tho, if it is judged to be a bad idea. And his daughter looks very pretty.

    Abesheet, i’m going to drag my exceptionally tired self to a site that has Madagascar so that I can talk about it Monday. (btw, I have recently.. a few hours ago..discovered that I suffer from an Abesheet-yaderegechiw-aykirbign syndrome..). but first let me go chat up with Mazzi. minaweraw werey alen.

  • 2. Mimi  |  December 20, 2008 at 12:18 am

    Abesheet, I’m a huge fan of your blog. I love your sense of humor, your intelligent take on issues, and your brilliant writing! Keep up the good job.

    You have lived in the States before moving to Ethiopia, right? 🙂 I’m just curious 🙂

  • 3. Girum  |  December 22, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    For me, Tamirat’s shift to the spiritual camp has an aroma of getting demoralized by what has happened. Though he has done the whole nasty role u stated above, still don’t think it were the only drive for his 12 years of stay in prison. Normally he may deserve it..? I mean, if we’r calling corruption the only reason, don’t most of our leaders should spend at least hours in prison cells?
    anyhow as do all the EPRDF ‘tagays’ are Tamirat is also a part of a major history of Ethiopia, and it gives me no sense when he turns out to be politics ‘le- mne’….Is that not a surrender for a politician and a ‘ Tagay’ like him?

  • 4. Eskinder  |  December 23, 2008 at 7:32 am

    Can you please correct Shadia Supermarket…..

  • 5. abesheet  |  December 23, 2008 at 8:57 am

    Lol. Girume. If it’s “demoralization”, which happens to many a prisoner with a long-term sentence (I heard) who become bible toting Ministers within the first few years, then there is a likelihood of him going back to “his old ways” when he got used to the life outside the walls. Or he is using God as a red flag to discourage both the government and opposition parties trying to use or abuse him. “KeDemu Nitsuh negn.. atdresubign aldersibachihum” kind of deal. What really worries me, though, is what becomes to the 10 million dollars he is supposed to have kept in his name at some Swiss bank. If he’s planning to dish it in a “Mudaye Mitswat” box somewhere, I know a couple of churches who would love to have him for a member 🙂 .

    Can you please correct Shadia Supermarket…..

    Shadia Super Market?!

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