United Nations sanctions aimed at bringing an end to South Sudan's civil war would be counterproductive if imposed, the country's foreign minister said on Wednesday.
On Tuesday the UN Security Council unanimously passed a US-drafted resolution outlining a sanctions regime that will allow for worldwide travel bans and asset freezes for "spoilers" of the peace process and a possible arms embargo. However, no sanctions have actually been imposed.
"Any sanctions imposed on South Sudan, will not only hinder the peace process but will inherently be felt by our countrymen and women down to the very basic level," Barnaba Marial Benjamin said in a statement.
"We need to remove obstacles obstructing peace not create new ones," he said.
South Sudan's conflict began in December 2013 when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of planning a coup.
Fighting quickly spread from the capital Juba. Tens of thousands have been killed, one in six have been forced from their homes and millions more have been pushed to the edge of starvation.
Peace talks, brokered by regional bloc IGAD, got underway within weeks of the outbreak of conflict but have only resulted in a series of broken ceasefires and empty promises. IGAD sanctions have been threatened but not imposed.
Kiir and Machar are in the Ethiopian capital this week for the latest round of talks. IGAD has set March 5 as the latest deadline for a final peace agreement.
Despite the lack of progress in peace talks, the continued fighting, suffering and destruction Benjamin struck an optimistic tone in his call for sanctions not to be imposed.
"Our struggle for growth and prosperity is only just beginning," he insisted. "We've fought long and hard to get where we are."