Hours after he was forced from power by a popular uprising and military desertions, Bolivia’s socialist ex-president, Evo Morales, revealed Monday night he was headed to Mexico while saying officials in his home country wanted him arrested.
Confusion over his whereabouts spread amid a political leadership vacuum and escalating street clashes between Morales' supporters and the opposition.
Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard announced earlier Monday that Mexico had granted an asylum request from Morales. The ex-president later tweeted: "I am leaving for Mexico, grateful for the openness of these brothers who offered us asylum to protect our life. It hurts me to leave the country, for political reasons, but I will always be concerned. I will return soon, with more strength and energy."
His announced resignation Sunday initially sparked 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."
It remained unclear who Morales' eventual successor may be.
In the hours following his ousting, Morales claimed on Twitter that officials 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.
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.
Ebrard had 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.
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.