LA PAZ, Bolivia — Bolivia remained leaderless on Monday as politicians scrambled to take charge while the former president — who said he was forced to resign — made conflicting statements that could make a political transition more difficult.
In Twitter messages from an undisclosed location, the former president, Evo Morales, called on the opposition “to guarantee political stability,” but also said his supporters inside and outside the country repudiated what he called “a coup.”
He stepped down on Sunday after weeks of growing unrest over a disputed presidential election and after the military indicated it would support the people in the streets calling for him to step down.
On Monday morning, following a series of resignations by the top government officials in the line of succession, a leading opposition politician said she was ready to take the reins of power until new elections could be held.
The politician, Jeanine Añez Chavez, the Senate’s second vice president, appeared on television Monday morning before boarding a plane for La Paz, sobbing as she described the chaos of the night before. “Bolivia doesn’t deserve this, all these deaths and destruction,” she said, before promising a quick transition “that is absolutely necessary to return to a democracy.”
But it is unclear if she would get the necessary approval from the national assembly, which is controlled by Mr. Morales’s supporters
Mr. Morales appeared to be in hiding in a province where he has traditionally had much support. Late Sunday he said on Twitter that the police were seeking to arrest him “illegally” and that “violent groups” had broken into his home.
A video circulating on social media showed dozens of people exploring what was reported to be Mr. Morales’s ransacked home, with furniture toppled, items broken and political slogans spray painted on walls in red.
Ms. Añez, a senator from the opposition Democratic Union party, said she would need a quorum in the assembly to approve a transfer of power, and Mr. Morales’s party, the Movement for Socialism, controls both houses. His supporters in the assembly may try to block the appointment of an interim president using procedural rules, leaving a vacuum at the top of the government.
Carlos Mesa, a former president who was the losing candidate in the recent presidential election — widely considered fraudulent — said members of the opposition were attempting to appeal to the patriotism of lawmakers who have backed Mr. Morales.
“They have no reason to believe they will be persecuted,” Mr. Mesa said at a news conference Monday morning.
On Monday morning, lawmakers from around Bolivia attempted to return to La Paz. But the country’s rugged geography made travel difficult, and it appeared the earliest they would be able to convene is Tuesday morning, according a schedule released by the assembly.
The military attempted to speed up the process by offering helicopter transport to some legislators. Opposition leaders said they were working for a rapid transition. “We need an expeditious resolution,” said Luis Vasquez, a former Social Democratic Senator.
The scene in La Paz was chaotic. On the city’s streets, through a driving rain, the police withdrew as crowds welcomed the transfer of power with fireworks, while others looted stores and set what appeared to be politically motivated fires.
In Cochabamba, in the center of Bolivia, some businesspeople set up vigilante patrols to protect their businesses. Bands of motorcyclists came into the city from the outskirts, violently confronting people who were celebrating in the streets.
Drinking water was cut off to parts of La Paz and the adjacent city of El Alto, Bolivia’s second-largest, but the reason for the cutoff was not known.
There was little to no violence in Santa Cruz, a center of the opposition. A festival-like mood prevailed there, with people celebrating on the streets and waving flags.
The political crisis began when Mr. Morales, a leftist who came to power more than a decade ago and was once widely popular, claimed victory in the Oct. 20 election, which protesters and international observers suspected was rigged. In 2016, a court packed with loyalists allowed him to do away with the constitution’s two-term limit, allowing him to run for office indefinitely.
For weeks after the disputed election results, demonstrations paralyzed much of the country, and groups supporting the president have roughed up protesters.
But Friday night, some police units broke from the government and joined the protesters. On Sunday, the rebellion spread to the military, with the commander of Bolivia’s armed forces, Gen. Williams Kaliman, calling for Mr. Morales to step down.
Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s foreign minister, said on Sunday that the country would offer Mr. Morales asylum if he sought it.
Clifford Krauss reported from La Paz, and Daniel Victor from Hong Kong.