As African countries moved toward electoral democratization in the 1990s, many countries remained basically authoritarian, but incorporated some democratic innovations to one degree or another. Thus, the rules for authoritarian regimes changed in fundamental ways so that such regimes differed markedly from the autocracies of the earlier post-independence period. Post-1986 Uganda is used in this paper to show how authoritarianism has softened under Yoweri Museveni when compared with the earlier regimes of Idi Amin and Milton Obote. However, as we also see in the Ugandan case, most rulers have only gone as far with political reforms as they have felt they have needed to in order to satisfy domestic and donor pressures. Enormous constraints on civil and political liberties persist. The article examines the nature of semi-authoritarian regimes using the case of Uganda.