Direct rule is a system of governmental rule in which the central authority has power over the country. Indirect rule is a system of government in which a central authority has power over a country or area, but the local government maintains some authority. Indirect rule and direct rule are the systems countries employ during imperialism, allowing the central government of one country to control a colony from a distance.
In direct rule, the central government invokes a strong relationship between its laws and its citizenry. Direct rule provides for greater control, because a central authority makes all of the laws for another country, state or province. No decisions are left to the people under direct rule.
Indirect rule is a weaker form of government, because it allows some of the local people under appointment to make decisions regarding the codification of the law. Usually, administrative and social laws not pertaining to the ruling authority’s interests are left to the citizens under this system. The central authority has less control over the outcomes of these laws under indirect rule.
One of the most well-known examples of indirect rule is the British system of governmental rule in the countries of Nigeria and South Africa in the late 1800s. The French used direct rule in West Africa in the late 1800s.