Free @ Last
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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