Cardinal Bernard Yago said Saturday a plot to assassinate Pope John Paul II was uncovered prior to a papal visit earlier this month but denied Ivory Coast opposition parties were involved.

The cardinal attributed the plot to a group based in Ghana, and condemned President Felix Houphouet-Boigny for disclosing details about the plot."He should have kept it secret . . . He has held political interests above those of the (Roman Catholic) Church," the cardinal said in rare criticism of Ivory Coast's leader of 30 years.

The cardinal noted Houphouet-Boigny accusation's came as the president faced the nation's first multiparty elections on Oct. 28.

The 85-year-old president did not name those he claimed were responsible for hiring mercenaries and former soldiers to kill John Paul when he visited Ivory Coast on Sept. 9-10. No attack was made on the pontiff.