ANTANANARIVO, (Reuters) - Madagascar's armed forces said on Tuesday they were ready to fulfil their duties if a bitter power struggle that has killed about 125 people is not resolved quickly.
Tension has risen in Antananarivo since Monday when police fired in the air to disperse thousands of protesters who support attempts by the capital's former mayor, Andry Rajoelina, to oust President Marc Ravalomanana.
The army is part of those looking for a rapid solution to the current situation. The army is not there to seize power, but it is ready to fulfil its duties, General Fred Rakotovao, one of the army's longest standing officers, said in a statement.
On Tuesday, security forces deployed in the capital, blocking roads and preventing up to 10,000 demonstrators from accessing government ministries that have been labelled red zones, or no-go areas.
Opposition leader Rajoelina, a former disc jockey turned politician, accuses the president of being a dictator and has established a parallel administration which he wants to install in government buildings.
Ravalomanana denies the charge and has told supporters he intends to remain in power until the end of his mandate in 2011.
A senior naval officer, Vice-Admiral Rarison Ramaroson, echoed the general's pledge. If there is no concrete solution (through dialogue) then we are ready to fulfil our duties, he told reporters at the Ministry of Defence.
Efforts are under way to bring the two sides back to the negotiating table after talks appeared to stall.
Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, who brokered peace talks in Dakar in 2002 after a disputed election in Madagascar, said he was ready to help.
Wade's spokesman El Hadj Amadou Sall said in a statement that the Senegalese president had been asked to mediate again and had welcomed the request.
The crisis on the world's fourth largest island has had catastrophic consequences for the economy.
Private tourism operators say the $323 million a year industry faces collapse without a speedy settlement while the violence has dented the Indian Ocean island's image as a secure destination for foreign investment.
The island has one of the world's most bio-diverse natural environments, with scores of endemic animal and plant species.
It has also opened its doors to major foreign companies including Rio Tinto (RIO.L) and Sherritt International (S.TO), which plan to extract nickel, bauxite, cobalt and ilmenite, a major source of titanium. (Writing by By Alain Iloniaina with Richard Lough; Editing by David Clarke)