Leaders of the G8 have pledged to give $20bn in aid to Tunisia and Egypt following the uprisings earlier this year.

Both countries are due to hold parliamentary and presidential elections later in 2011.

The G8 said in a statement that its aim is to “ensure that instability does not undermine the process of political reform” in the two countries.

While the value of aid was put at $20bn, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the total could be double that. About $10bn is expected to come from oil-rich Gulf states including Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

During the meeting held in France, the leaders said democracy in the region must be rooted in economic reforms that will create open markets, equal opportunities and jobs to reduce the high unemployment levels.

Tourism has been hit hard in Tunisia and Egypt. In May, Montreal-based International Air Transport Association said that passenger traffic to both countries declined between 10-25 per cent from traffic normally expected in March (MEED 3:5:11).