Hours after he was forced from power by a popular uprising and military desertions, Bolivia’s former socialist president, Evo Morales, was believed to be on the run Monday from authorities who he claimed wanted him arrested.
The allegation, though disputed, nevertheless spread amid a political leadership vacuum and escalating street clashes between Morales’ supporters and the opposition.
Sunday began with a jubilant celebration among Morales’ foes. But after nightfall, there were reports of tensions between Morales supporters and opposition protesters that led to the looting and burning of public property and homes.
Angry pro-Morales residents clashed with police and set up barricades–some lit up in flames–to block roads leading to the country’s main airport. A large mural near the airport read: “Evo: the people need you.”
Supporters of former President Evo Morales clash with police in La Paz on Monday. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)
But the whereabouts of the 60-year-old Morales remain unknown — as does the identity of his eventual successor.
In the hours following his ousting, Morales claimed on Twitter that authorities were looking to arrest him and that armed intruders stormed his home.
“I report to the world and Bolivian people that a police officer publicly announced that he has instructions to execute an unlawful apprehension order against me; in addition, violent groups also stormed my home,” Morales tweeted.
Opponents of Bolivia’s former President Evo Morales celebrate after he announced his resignation in La Paz on Sunday. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)
Police Gen. Yuri Calderon, who reportedly resigned Monday, immediately denied that any apprehension order had been issued for Morales, calling it “fake news.” However, an armed group did raid his home in Cochabamba, The Associated Press reported.
While the military and a majority of citizens in Bolivia turned against him, Morales appeared to still have allies in Latin America.
Mexico Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard described the ousting as a military coup that violated “the constitutional order” in Bolivia.
Mexico still considered Morales to be the legitimate leader of Bolivia, Ebrard said. He wrote on Twitter that Mexico would offer asylum to Morales if he asks for it, though there was no indication he had.
Morales announced his resignation under mounting pressure from the military and the public after his re-election victory triggered weeks of fraud allegations and deadly protests. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)
After nearly 14 years in power, Morales claimed he won a fourth term in a disputed Oct. 20 election over opposition leader and former President Carlos Mesa. However, allegations of election fraud sparked cries across the Latin American country that Morales give up the presidency.
He was finally forced out Sunday. The next two successors, his vice president and the Senate president, also resigned, causing a power vacuum within the country that has yet to be filled.
Meanwhile, the European Union and other Latin American countries have called for calm in Bolivia as the next steps to find a successor are determined.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.