A former Mauritanian army officer has pleaded guilty to planning a series of attempted coups against what he called the nation's illegal government.

Major Saleh Ould Hanenna told a judge at a military base Tuesday that he wanted to end two decades of disastrous policies by President Maaouiya Ould Taya.

Major Hanenna is among 181 people, including a former president and other military officials, who are accused in the coup plots.

Prosecutors say the suspects launched the first coup attempt in June 2003, when rebel soldiers battled government troops for two days on the streets of the capital, Nouakchott.

Officials say they foiled two more coup plots earlier this year.

President Ould Taya has ruled the northwestern African nation for 20 years, since taking power in a coup.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.